2008 Briefs : July - September

Pangolin Workshop at Singapore Zoo

July 1, 2008  www.monstersandcritics.com   By James Wray

Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia are jointly organizing a three-day pangolin conservation workshop to be held at the Singapore Zoo starting 30 June 2008, to discuss the perilous situation facing pangolin populations in Asia, as its survival comes under increasing threat from illegal poaching for their meat and use in traditional medicines.

Counting Ability in Rhesus Monkey

July 1, 2008  www.newscientist.com

Rhesus macaques have been shown to possess yet another numerical talent once thought unique to humans – they can simultaneously count audible beeps and dots on a computer screen.  Their ability to comprehend numbers not as just discrete images or sounds, but as abstract representations that can be combined suggests that such maths skills aren't unique to humans, says Kerry Jordan, a psychologist at Utah State University, Logan, US, who led the new study.  Irene Pepperberg, a psychologist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, who trained a parrot named Alex to add small sums, says the paper confirms observations in the wild. Flycatchers, for instance, seem to communicate their mood to other birds using a numerical combination of song and wing motions. The more wing flicks and songs, the more likely it is to attack another bird, she says.  The study appears in a recent issue of the  journal Cognition.

Jordan and colleague Elizabeth Brannon, of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, US, trained two eight-year-old female macaques to equate beeps to dots on a computer screen. So if a monkey heard seven beeps, it knew to tap a square on the screen displaying seven dots.  Next, the researchers tested the monkeys’ training in adding dots and beeps together. The animals were presented dots of different sizes flash onto a screen. At the same time they heard a series of short tones.To determine if the monkeys could combine the two, Jordan and Brannon showed the animals a screen with two numerical choices, represented as dots – one the correct sum, one incorrect. Both monkeys did better than 50:50 – one added the sights and sounds correctly 72% of the time, the other 66% of the time.

Both monkeys tended to make mistakes when the right and wrong answers were numerically similar. For instance, if the choices were one and eight, the animals rarely got it wrong. But they found it harder to choose between, say, five and six.  People make the same kind of errors when making snap numerical judgements, such counting the number of people in a crowd, says Jordan, which is further evidence that our abstract maths skills aren't unique.The monkey's ability to add numbers seen and heard together makes sense in the wild, says Jordan. "If you have an animal trying to make a decision to defend its territory, it's going to want know how many other animals it has to deal with," she says. It would do this by combining information on how many animals it could see with how many it could hear.

Werribee Open Range Zoo Plans Questioned

July 1, 2008   www.theage.com.au

The Victorian Government said today it had rejected a proposed African Safari World theme park at the zoo because the cost to the taxpayer, believed to be $100 million, would have been too great. An interdepartmental committee has studied the proposal by Village Roadshow for an African Safari World within the grounds of the Werribee Open Range Zoo. The idea was strongly backed in principle by Tourism Minister Tim Holding, but vigorously opposed by some animal experts, local environment groups and supporters of the Parkville and Werribee zoos. The Government was concerned that the $220 million Disney-like theme park would divert money from the daunting transport and health challenges facing the state and that “Village Roadshow” had not considered: the problem of multiple land titles, the complexity of transferring Crown leases to a company, potential loss of revenue to the existing zoo, and animal welfare issues. Village was seeking a 99-year lease and had reportedly asked the Government to contribute $100 million.  Village is a regular donor to political parties and contributed more than $60,000 to the state ALP in 2007, one of the year's largest corporate donations.  The Werribee zoo is renowned for its open range approach for lions, giraffes, zebras and rhinos. Under the Safari World proposal, thrill rides, shops and restaurants over 40 hectares would be the animals' new neighbors.  Mr Holding is concerned that Victoria is losing tourists to Queensland's theme parks and has been impressed by the pitch that a new-look facility could become a top tourist draw.

But Tourism and Major Events Minister Tim Holding left the door open for other offers for a theme park in Victoria, which he said would bring in billions of dollars for the state. Animals Australia executive director Glenys Oogjes said the animals' welfare had been threatened by the theme park. "The zoo would have been seen just as an extension of a good day out if the theme park went ahead and without the respect and concern for animals that we want to inculcate into our community. "To try to meld the two was just abhorrent." Village Roadshow - said the decision not to go ahead was disappointing.  Chief executive of Village's International Theme Parks, John Harnden, said the company, whose theme parks include Sea World, Movie World, and Wet 'n Wild on the Gold Coast, would continue to focus on growing its portfolio. "While we are disappointed that we have not been able to develop a financial model with the Government that would allow our vision for African Safari World to go forward, we appreciate the time and genuine effort the Government has taken to assess our proposal," Mr Harnden said in a statement.

Squirrels test positive for plague

July 1, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com 

County health officials say blood samples from two ground squirrels on Palomar Mountain have tested positive for plague. The squirrels were found at the Doane Valley Campground. Plague was found at the same park last year, according to the county. Plague is a bacterial disease disease that can be transmitted to humans from the bite of infected fleas. So far, there have been no locally acquired cases of plague in the county, but health officials urged campers and hikers to avoid contact with squirrels and other wild animals, and not to rest, camp or sleep near animal burrows. They also recommended keeping pets on a leash and using flea control -- or better yet, leave them at home.

Humans Impact Antarctic Penguin Populations

July 1, 2008  www.eurekalert.org 

P. Dee Boersma, of the University of Washington in Seattle provides an account of penguin populations in the Southern Hemisphere in the July/August 2008 issue of BioScience, For 25 years, working with the Wildlife Conservation Society and UW colleagues, Boersma has studied the world's largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins at Punta Tombo on the Atlantic coast of Argentina. That population probably peaked at about 400,000 pairs between the late 1960s and early 1980s, and today is just half that total.  There are similar stories from other regions. African penguins decreased from 1.5 million pairs a century ago to just 63,000 pairs by 2005. The number of Galapagos Islands penguins, the only species with a range that extends into the Northern Hemisphere, has fallen to around 2,500 birds, about one-quarter what it was when Boersma first studied the population in the 1970s.  The number of Adélie and Chinstrap penguins living on the Antarctic Peninsula, the northernmost part of the continent, has declined by 50 percent since the mid-1970s. Other species in Africa, South America, Australia, New Zealand, the Falklands Islands and Antarctica also have suffered significant population declines. Boersma advocates a broad international effort to check on the largest colonies of each penguin species regularly– at least every five years – to see how their populations are faring, what the greatest threats seem to be and what the changes mean for the health of the oceans.

The ecology of penguins makes these seabirds of the Southern Hemisphere unusually susceptible to environmental changes. Pronounced warming in the Antarctic, as well as commercial fishing, mining, and oil and gas development at lower latitudes, has led to declines in many species.  Rapid reductions of sea ice off Antarctica in recent years threaten Adélie and emperor penguins, which need ice, but may benefit some populations of relatively ice-intolerant gentoo and chinstrap penguins. Increased snow and rain, another result of the changing climate, reduce breeding success in some gentoo and Adélie penguins.  Temperate penguins, such as Galápagos, Peruvian, and African species, are all declining. Mining of guano, egg harvesting, commercial fishing, and oil spills are the chief causes, according to Boersma, although tourism and increasingly severe El Niño events, probably resulting from climate change, are also partly responsible.

New Avian Flu H5N1 Vaccine

July 1, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

PHILADELPHIA   -- H5N1 Avian flu is tricky because it mutates quickly, generating different strains that escape an immune response targeted against one single strain. Preparing effective vaccines in advance with either live or killed viruses, which protect against only one or few cross-strains, is therefore very difficult. Instead of injecting a live or killed virus, Penn researchers injected three different species of animal models with synthetic DNA vaccines that are not taken from the flu microbe, but trick the immune system into mounting a broad response against pandemic flu, including strains to which the immune system was never exposed. Antibodies induced by the vaccine rapidly reached protective levels in all three animal species. "This is the first study to show that a single DNA vaccine can induce protection against strains of pandemic flu in many animal models, including primates," says David B. Weiner, Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. "With this type of vaccine, we can generate a single construct of a pandemic flu vaccine that will give much broader protection."  Traditional vaccines expose a formulation of a specific strain of flu to the body so it can create immune responses against that specific strain. Conversely, a DNA vaccine becomes part of the cell, giving it the blueprint it needs to build antigens that can induce responses that target diverse strains of pandemic flu. This study was published last week in PLoS ONE. 

Researchers found evidence of two types of immune responses – T lymphocytes and antibodies -- in all three types of animal models. Two types of animal models (mice and ferrets) were protected from both disease and mortality when exposed to avian flu. To ensure increased DNA delivery, the researchers administered the vaccine in combination with electroporation, a small, harmless electric charge that opens up cell pores facilitating increased entry of the DNA vaccine into cells. If proven in humans, this research could lead the way to preparing against an outbreak of avian flu. Because these synthetic DNA vaccines are effective against multiple cross strains, vaccines could be created, stockpiled, prior to a pandemic, and thus be delivered quickly in the event of an outbreak, surmise the researchers.  This study has shown other advantages of DNA vaccines. On one hand, killed vaccines, which involve the injection of a dead portion of a virus, are relatively safe but usually effective at producing only a strong cellular immunity. Live vaccines, which involve the injection of a form of a live virus, can have increased manufacturing and some safety issues. Both of these vaccine strategies may have concerns in persons with certain allergies (egg for example) as current manufacturing methods rely on egg based  production technologies. On the other hand, DNA vaccines preclude the need to create live tissue samples, which presents risk to those working with the virus.  "DNA vaccines have the benefits and avoid many conceptual negatives of other types of traditional vaccines," says Weiner.  This research also has implications for non-avian types of flu. Every year, scientists try to guess what strain of the year will be that creates the common flu. Sometimes their educated guess is wrong, which is why last year's influenza vaccine worked only 30 percent of the time. Designing traditional vaccines in combination with the DNA platform may be a partial solution to this dilemma, predicts Weiner.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

July 1, 2008   www.epa.gov

The public is invited to comment on these requests to conduct research on endangered species by July 31, 2008.  Written data or comments should be submitted to the Assistant Regional Director, Fisheries--Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0486; facsimile 303-236-0027. Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, by any party who submits a request for a copy of such documents within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice to Kris Olsen, by mail or by telephone at 303-236-4256. All comments received from individuals become part of the official public record.

    Applicant--Eric Zach, Nebraska Department of Roads, Lincoln, Nebraska, TE-186282. The applicant requests a permit to take American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    Applicant--William Busby, University of Kansas, Kansas Biological Survey, Lawrence, Kansas, TE-186231. The applicant requests a permit to take American burying beetle (Nicrophorus americanus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    Applicant--Chadwin Smith, Headwaters Corporation, Kearney, Nebraska, TE-183430. The applicant requests a permit to take interior least tern (Sterna antillarum athalassos) and piping plover (Charadrius melodus) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the
species' range for the purpose of enhancing their survival and recovery.

    Applicant--Randy Wisthoff, Kansas City Zoo, Kansas City, Missouri, TE-183432. The applicant requests a permit to take Wyoming toad (Bufo baxteri) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    Applicant--Paul Wolf, Utah State University, Logan, Utah, TE-057399. The applicant requests a renewed permit to take Primula maguirei (Maguire primrose) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    Applicant--Mike Phillips, Turner Endangered Species Fund, Cimarron, New Mexico, TE-051139. The applicant requests a permit amendment to add reintroduction of black-footed ferrets (Mustela nigripes) to their permit in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    Applicant--U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bozeman Fish Technology Center, Bozeman, Montana, TE-038970. The applicant requests a permit amendment to add take of bonytail (Gila elegans) and woundfin (Plagopterus argentissimus) to their permit in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing their survival and recovery.

    Applicant--John Sowell, Western State College of Colorado, Gunnison, Colorado, TE-186566. The applicant requests a permit to take Uncompahgre fritillary butterfly (Boloria acrocnema) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Successful Tasmanian Devil Mating at Taronga Zoo

July 2, 2008  www.news.com.au  By Angela Saurine

Although beaten up by a fierce female during his first attempt at mating, Tex the tasmanian devil is now the father of at least two joeys.  Fellow tasmanian devil Martha has 2 joeys in the pouch - the first born at Taronga Zoo in at least 15 years. Staff are particularly pleased because both the marsupials are only two years old and successful breeding doesn't usually occur until they are a year or two older.  "She initially rejected him, then we tried another male but she kicked him out, so we thought we'd try Tex again," Taronga Zoo keeper Tony Britt-Lewis said.

Vietnam Species Impacted by Traditional Medicine

July 2, 2008  www.newkerala.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.  -- Two new reports from TRAFFIC, suggest that rare plants and endangered species such as tigers are at risk from traditional medicine in Cambodia and Vietnam.  The results of field studies carried out between 2005 and 2007 found that a significant number of Cambodians and Vietnamese rely on traditional medicine. Relaxation of international trade barriers, the impact of free market economies and complex national government policies have led to an increase in the demand and supply for flora and fauna used in traditional medicine. Crawford Allan, TRAFFIC's director in North America, estimates between 5-10 tiger skeletons are sold annually in Vietnam to be used in traditional medicine, with each skeleton fetching approximately 20,000 dollars.   A report titled "An overview of the use and trade of plants and animals in traditional medicine systems in Cambodia" examined the use of wildlife products in Traditional Khmer Medicine and its possible impacts.  Over 800 types of plants, approximately 35 percent of the country's native species, are used in Traditional Khmer Medicine. Eight of those plants species are considered high priority for national conservation. The surveys were conducted in north and south Vietnam, where more than 3,900 species of flora and 400 species of fauna are used in traditional remedies. Seventy-one of the animals traded and used for medicinal purposes in Vietnam are listed on the IUCN Red List of globally threatened species.

"Traditional medicine systems in Cambodia and Vietnam are important components of both national healthcare systems, and are often the only means of healthcare for rural communities," said Dekila Chungyalpa, manager of the Mekong Ecoregion Program at WWF-US. "Understanding which animal and plant species and products are used and traded, and their underlying trade mechanisms, can provide a useful tool to assess the sustainability of such trade, and provide an 'early warning' for species that are threatened," he added.

Aye Aye Born at San Francisco Zoo

July 2, 2008  www.sfgate.com   By Marisa Lagos

It takes 2 to 3 hours for an aye-aye to copulate, and if you don't have a good teacher, you may never procreate at all.  Miraculously a baby was born sometime June 20 or June 21 at the San Francisco Zoo. The birth is only the second time an aye-aye has been born in captivity to parents who were also captive-bred, and it's the first time ever that a pair has bred without other aye-ayes around. Until recently, researchers had success breeding only the handful of aye-ayes taken from the wild in 1987 as part of a research program at Duke University.  The parents at the San Francisco Zoo - and their new, unnamed offspring - are part of that research program. The recent birth indicates that captive breeding programs could be successful and boost numbers of the rare primates.  "It's a very happy surprise," said Dean Gibson, assistant director of Duke's lemur center, [She will become a primate curator at the San Diego Zoo in September}  Zookeeper Briana Unikzcke, who looks after the San Francisco lemurs - 10-year-old Warlock and 5-year-old Sabrina - wasn't sure Sabrina was pregnant until the baby was discovered.  In San Francisco, the lemurs are also hidden away, not deep in the forest but in a dark space tucked under the zoo's primate discovery center. The family will not be on display until the baby is a bit older, and when they are introduced to the public, visitors will have to be patient: Aye-ayes are shy, and their habitat is pitch-black.

Even after 20 years of study, researchers know little about the odd-looking lemur's husbandry practices, or maturity and development. They know that copulation takes between 2 and 2 1/2 hours, and they know that males learn how to mate from watching other couples and by practicing on their mothers at a young age. Scientists think that the usually solitary creatures may need other aye-ayes around for pheromonal stimulation when they mate, although the recent birth may disprove that theory - one of the reasons the pair were sent to San Francisco. Whatever is the case, Unikzcke said, scientists now believe that breeding and foraging are learned behaviors for the aye-ayes.  As proof, Gibson recalled experience with Merlin, the male half of the only other captive-born pair that has given birth. Merlin was on display at the San Francisco Zoo for about five years but didn't mate until he returned to Duke University.

"The first time he bred, he had great difficulty," Gibson said. "His technique was poor, his confidence was low, and we think it's because we pulled him from his mother at an early age, and he had never witnessed copulation with an adult male." All lemurs are from Madagascar and are considered threatened species, mostly because agricultural lands are encroaching upon the primates' habitat.  But aye-ayes may be more challenged than their cute, ring-tailed cousins. They are considered bad luck on the island nation, Gibson said. If a villager sees one - which is rare, because the animals are nocturnal and people don't generally venture into the forest at night - the aye-eye's head is supposed to be cut off and posted at the village entrance, lest bad luck fall upon the person.

Aye-aye lemur facts:
Native to: Madagascar
Weight: 5.5 pounds to 6 pounds for an adult; under 4.4 ounces when born
Lifespan: Unknown
Population size: There are 26 in captivity in the United States; several European institutes as well as one in Japan also have small captive populations. The number of wild aye-ayes is not known.
History: Aye-ayes branched off from other lemurs 62 million years ago and are one of only two types of nocturnal lemurs. They are also differentiated by their unique foraging habits: They use their long middle finger to tap on trees and logs, listen for movement, then use their sharp claw to dig out grubs. Aye-ayes also sleep in nests of branches and leaves.

Fire Threatens Condor Chicks

July 2, 2008  www.mercurynews.com  By Lisa M. Krieger

One rare California condor chick may be dead and two others are in areas too dangerous to be saved, as the Big Sur-based Basin fire creeps into their once-serene canyons.  "It is horrible, but there is nothing we can do," said Kelly Sorenson of Ventana Wildlife Society, which monitors each bird along the central coast. Thick smoke thwarted an attempted rescue Tuesday morning. Last year was the first time in a century that Big Sur's tiny population of wild condors conceived two chicks. This year's birth of three chicks was cause for celebration.  "The death of only one would be a significant loss, a tragedy," Sorenson said. There are only 151 wild condors in the world; 23 of them live in Big Sur, reintroduced from captivity by the Ventana Wildlife Society.
The young chicks are about 2 1/2 months old, still covered in downy gray feathers yet already the size of chickens. Too young to fly, they are confined to their nests.  One, perched 200 feet up an ancient redwood tree, was located in a remote interior part of Ventana Wilderness Area - which is now completely burned. Although the tree remains standing, biologists fear that the heat and smoke were deadly.  The other two live in more coastal nests, not yet burned but within a quarter mile of the fire. Because of cool coastal fog, their prospects seem better.

The rapid spread of the fire - growing 7,643 acres Monday night - sent Ventana Wildlife Society biologists to their rescue Tuesday morning.  "But the smoke and fog was so thick that there is no way to get in safely," Sorenson said. Even a successful rescue held its own risks - at that young age, captivity and the loss of a parent can be catastrophic, he said. Particularly if the weather stays foggy, "they have a better chance of surviving if left in the nest." The condors are part of a reintroduction program administrated by the Ventana Wildlife Society. The good news is that relocated populations of condors seem safe. Eight captive 1-year-old chicks, airlifted to Pinnacles National Monument by a Coast Guard helicopter, are healthy. And 44 adult wild birds, each wearing a radio transmitter, all have been accounted for. They have flown out of smoky areas toward the coast, said Ventana Wildlife Society spokeswoman Cathy Keeran. They are likely to thrive once the fire dies down, she said, eating animals killed by flames.

Denver Zoo Saves Plovers and Toads

July 2, 2008   www.dailytribune.com 

ROYAL OAK -- The Detroit Zoo has been producing healthy Wyoming toads since 1997 and recently sent 17 1-year-old toadlets and 52 tadpoles back to Wyoming for release into the Laramie River Basin. The toad was listed as extinct in the wild in 1994. Last year, the breeding program was ranked as No. 1 among the top 10 AZA wildlife conservation success stories. Becky Johnson, associate curator of amphibians said, “When the toads can reproduce on their own in their habitat, their designation as extinct in the wild will be reconsidered.”  The Zoo is also helping to conserve the Puerto Rican crested toad.  The zoo recently sent 2,000 toad tadpoles to Santa Isabel, Puerto Rico, to inhabit newly created ponds. The Detroit Zoo staff has been helping preserve its numbers since 1999.  Local zookeepers also have successfully bred the endangered Texas blind salamander for the sixth time since 2000. The Detroit Zoo is one of only three in North America to house the species found in the wild only in San Marcos, Texas. 

Detroit and nine other U.S. zoos are rearing captive Great Lakes Piping Plover and plan to return them to shoreline nesting areas at state parks in northern Michigan and Wisconsin, including Ludington, Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, Sturgeon Bay and the Upper Peninsula. The zookeepers salvage plover eggs after storms wash away nests or the parents are eaten by predators or abandon their nests because of disturbances. This has been a record year for egg gathering, according to Thomas Schneider, curator of birds at the Detroit Zoo. He expects 30 plover eggs incubated at a lab in Pellston to emerge as chicks and eventually be returned to the wild.  Twenty-one chicks hatched already. Previously, the most successful season for rearing captive plover chicks yielded 19 of the six-inch birds. Once estimated at 600 pairs, the number of piping plover dwindled to 20 pairs in the early 1980s due to loss of habitat and nest disturbances. In 1986, the birds were put on the U.S. endangered species list. The zoo workers check nests daily to watch for abandoned eggs, which are collected and sent to the University of Michigan Biological Station. There, the eggs are kept in incubators at 99 degrees with about 50 percent humidity. When the chicks emerge, they are monitored until a week after they are able to fly.

Paid zoo volunteers work one- to two-week shifts with the program. Schneider is in charge of scheduling zookeepers to care for the chicks from early May to early August, when they are ready for integration with the piping plovers that made it in the wild. The piping plover population has grown steadily as a result of the recovery efforts. In 2007 more than 60 nesting pairs were found in the Great Lakes region. Although still extremely vulnerable to extinction from predators, beach development and nest disturbance, the Great Lakes piping plover's numbers are considered stable. However, captive rearing will remain an important component in the population recovery. The goal is 100 breeding pairs.  The recovery plan for the Great Lakes Piping Plover was approved in 2003 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. For the past five years grant funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation has supported the program.

More than a third of the planet's 6,000 amphibian species are threatened with extinction due to habitat loss, climate change, pollution, pesticides and infectious diseases. Johnson said public awareness campaigns, such as the 2008 Year of the Frog program, are putting a focus on the critical work being done by zoos. "We're very excited about placing zoo-born animals back into the wild," Johnson said. "We are delivering on our mission of celebrating and saving wildlife by helping to establish a new population of amphibians in their natural environment."

Orangutan Populations Declining Rapidly

July 2, 2008   www.sciencedaily.com

Endangered wild orangutan (Pongo spp.) populations are declining more sharply in Sumatra and Borneo than previously estimated, according to new findings published this month by Great Ape Trust of Iowa scientist Dr. Serge Wich and other orangutan conservation experts in the July issue of Oryx.  Improvements in assessment methodology – including standardized data collection, island-wide surveys, and better sharing of data among stakeholders – put the number of Sumatran orangutans (P. abelii) around 6,600 in 2004. This is lower than previous estimates of 7,501 as a result of new findings that indicate that a large area in Aceh that was previously thought to contain orangutans actually does not. Since forest loss in Aceh has been relatively low from 2004 to 2008, the 2004 estimate is probably not much higher than the actual number in 2008. The 2004 estimate of about 54,000 Bornean orangutans (P. pygmaeus) is probably also higher than the actual number today as there has been a 10 percent orangutan habitat loss in the Indonesian part of Borneo during that period.  The experts determined that 75 percent of all orangutans live outside of national parks, which have been severely degraded by illegal logging, mining, encroachment by palm oil plantations and fires due to a general lack of enforcement by regulatory authorities, who are either unable or reluctant to implement conservation management strategies.  The experts reported positive signs that forest conservation is gaining prominence as a political agenda. For example, habitat loss has stabilized in some parts of Sumatra with a temporary logging moratorium in the province of Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam, where most of the island’s orangutans occur, both in and out of national parks. Opportunities also exist to develop reduced-impact logging systems on the island of Borneo, where most orangutans live in forests already exploited for timber.

Additional authors:  
   *  Erik Meijaard, Orangutan Conservation Services Program, Balikpapan, Indonesia, and Tropical Forest Initiative, The Nature Conservancy, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia;
    * Andrew J. Marshall, Department of Anthropology and Graduate Group in Ecology, University of California, Davis, U.S.A.;
    * Simon Husson, Wildlife Research Group, Department of Anatomy, University of Cambridge, U.K.;
    * Marc Ancrenaz, Kinabatangan Orangutan Conservation Project, Sandakan, Sabah, Malaysia;
    * Robert C. Lacy and Katy Traylor-Nolzer, IUCN (World Conservation Union)/SSC (Species Survival Commission) Conservation Breeding Specialist Group, Apple Valley, Minn., U.S.A.;
    * Carel P. van Schaik, Anthropological Institute & Museum, University of Zurich, Switzerland;
    * Jito Sugardjito, Fauna & Floral International – Indonesia Programme, Kompleks Pusat Laboratorium UnivNasional, Ragunan, Jakarta, Indonesia;
    * Togu Simorangkir, Yayorin (Yayason Orangutan Indonesia), Pangkalan Bun, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.
    * Matt Doughty, United Nations Environment Programme – World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Cambridge, U.K.
    * Jatna Supriatna, Conservation International – Indonesia Programme, Jalan Pejaten Barat, Kemang, Jakarta, Indonesia.
    * Rona Dennis, Center for International Forestry Research, Bogor, Indonesia;
    * Melvin Gumal, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia;
    * Cheryl D. Knott, Harvard University, Department of Anthropology, Peabody Museum, Cambridge, U.S.A.; and
    * Ian Singleton, Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Programme, Medan, Indonesia.

Although other threats to orangutan survival exist, such as hunting in agricultural areas where human-orangutan conflicts exist, the biggest by far is forest destruction associated with the burgeoning palm oil industry in Indonesia and Malaysia. Together, they are the world’s largest palm oil producers with a combined global market share of 80.5 percent. Rapid expansion of the palm oil industry coupled with poor land-use planning are further pressuring forests and the orangutans who depend on them for survival.  For example, in Sumatra, the controversial Ladia Galaska road project in the Leuser Ecosystem will, unless halted, fragment two of the three largest remaining orangutan populations, Wich et al. wrote. A similar project in 1982 split the Gunung Leuser National Park, and the improved access facilitated uncontrolled illegal settlements inside the park, large-scale illegal encroachment and logging, and poaching of threatened species. Also cited as an example of faulty land-use planning was a mega rice project, funded primarily by Indonesia’s reforestation fund, which eliminated 10,000 square kilometers of peat swamp forest and killed an estimated 15,000 orangutans from 1996 to 1999.

After destruction of their habitat a wild orangutan and her infant cling to a branch left standing on the island of Borneo. “All efforts to monitor orangutans, however, will be to no avail unless the decline in numbers is halted, and this requires a change in political will,” Wich et al wrote. “It is essential that funding for environmental services reaches the local level and that there is strong law enforcement. Developing a mechanism to ensure these occur is the challenge for the conservation of orangutans.” Great Ape Trust Director of Conservation Dr. Benjamin Beck said the paper makes a significant contribution to orangutan conservation discussion. “First, we have an unambiguous, scientifically rigorous answer when regulators and policymakers ask us how many orangutans really remain, and how that compares to historical population sizes,” Beck said. “Those responsible for environmental stewardship cannot hide indecisively behind purported scientific uncertainty. “Second, those answers are the results of pooled knowledge of nearly two dozen high-profile investigators who set aside their own professional reputations and agendas to collect data in a standardized format and share the results for a very high, common priority: the literal survival of the species that they study and love,” Beck continued. “In addition to being a critical contribution to orangutan conservation, this paper is an exemplar of collaboration among conservation scientists and practitioners.”

Species Extinctions Seriously Underestimated

July 2, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Extinction risks for natural populations of endangered species are likely being underestimated by as much as 100-fold because of a mathematical "misdiagnosis," according to a new study led by a University of Colorado at Boulder researcher.  Brett Melbourne of CU-Boulder's ecology and evolutionary biology department said current mathematical models used to determine extinction threat, or "red-listed" status, of species worldwide overlook random differences between individuals in a given population. Such differences, which include variations in male-to-female sex ratios as well as size or behavioral variations between individuals that can influence their survival rates and reproductive success, have an unexpectedly large effect on extinction risk calculations, according to the study.  "When we apply our new mathematical model to species extinction rates, it shows that things are worse than we thought," said Melbourne. "By accounting for random differences between individuals, extinction rates for endangered species can be orders of magnitude higher than conservation biologists have believed."  A paper on the subject by CU-Boulder's Melbourne and Professor Alan Hastings of the University of California, Davis was published in the July 3 issue of Nature. The National Science Foundation funded the study.

Currently, extinction risk models are based primarily on two factors, said Melbourne. One is the number of random events adversely affecting individuals within a population – the accidental drowning of a rock wallaby, for example. While a sequence of such random events in a small population can have a big impact, such events are far less likely to affect larger populations, Melbourne said.  The second risk factor used widely in extinction risk models is the impact of external, random events like temperature and rainfall fluctuations that can influence birth and death rates of individuals in a population, said Melbourne.

But two additional factors highlighted by the researchers in the Nature study -- sex ratio variations and physical variation between individuals within a population -- have been ignored or mischaracterized by most extinction risk modelers, he said. "There has been a tendency to misdiagnose randomness between individuals in a population by lumping it with random factors in the environment, and this underestimates the extinction threat," said Melbourne.

For the study, the researchers monitored populations of beetles in lab cages and the results were used to test the new mathematical models. "The results showed the old models misdiagnosed the importance of different types of randomness, much like miscalculating the odds in an unfamiliar game of cards because you didn't know the rules," said Melbourne.  Since natural animal populations are more likely to have larger differences in sex ratios and differences between individuals than the controlled beetle experiment by Melbourne and Hastings, "the effect we have uncovered here will be larger in natural populations," wrote the authors in Nature.

For some large, high-profile endangered species like mountain gorillas, biologists can collect data on specific individuals to help develop and track extinction trajectories, he said. "But for many other species, like stocks of marine fish, the best biologists can do is to measure abundances and population fluctuations, and it's these species that are most likely to be misdiagnosed," said Melbourne.  "We suggest that extinction risk for many populations of conservation concern need to be urgently re-evaluated with full consideration of all factors contributing to stochasticity," or randomness, the authors wrote in Nature. According to a 2007 report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a network of about 1,000 organizations with thousands of participating scientists, more than 16,000 species worldwide are threatened with extinction. One in four mammal species, one in eight bird species and one in three amphibian species are on the IUCN "Red List," indicating they are threatened with extinction.

Tuatara Extinction by 2085 Predicted

July 2, 2008  www.enn.com  by Narelle Towie

Researchers studying tuatara (Sphenodon spp.) have predicted the reptiles extinction by 2085, using digital terrain maps and computer modeling.  The expected temperature hike at their nesting sites means only maile offspring will be produced.  The entire tuatara population is now effectively trapped on about 30 small islands in New Zealand’s north, having been wiped out elsewhere by predators. They therefore have no chance of adapting by fleeing to cooler climes, the researchers say. The study is reported in Proceedings of the Royal Society B1. “Since the mid 1990s, people have been talking about the vulnerability of reptiles to climate change because they have temperature-dependent sex determination. But no one has been able to model it in this type of complexity before,” says research leader Nicola Mitchell of the University of Western Australia in Perth.

Florida Zoo Benefit is a Hoax

July 3, 2008  www.thedestinlog.com 

GULF BREEZE - The Zoo Northwest Florida is considering legal action after a celebrity fund-raiser in the works for more than a year ended up being a hoax.  A promoter posing to be a representative and relative of Zac Efron, star of the Disney Channel's popular "High School Musical" franchise, contacted the facility last year about scheduling a fund-raiser for The Zoo, said Danyelle Lantz, the Zoo's executive director.  Plans for the Aug. 9 event fell through this week when the Zoo learned there was a problem with its contract. "I really want to believe that it was not malicious, that it was more of a delusion," Lantz said. "We never gave them any money and they never asked for any," she said. The Zoo had been planning an all-day event that would have included breakfast and dinner with Efron and three of his costars from "High School Musical" and with two actors from the Disney Channel's "Hannah Montana" series.  Lantz said The Zoo was projecting to raise $150,000. The money would have been used to offset a shortfall in operating funds because attendance has been down about 20 percent this year because of the economy.  Lantz said The Zoo had been working with the promoter for more than a year. In that time there had been conference calls, e-mail correspondence, talks with zoo board members and the promoter. Contracts had also been signed.  The Zoo is considering suing the promoter. "We have approached our attorney. We are evaluating what legal recourse we have and we will be pursuing that to the fullest," Lantz said.

AZA Chief On Why SF Zoo Should Remain a Zoo

July 3, 2008  www.sfgate.com  By Jim Maddy

Six months ago, a Siberian tiger killed a visitor at the San Francisco Zoo, the first such death at any accredited zoo. The incident has led to safety improvements and better emergency preparedness in San Francisco and at all the nation's accredited zoos. Now, some are exploiting the tragedy, attempting to make the San Francisco Zoo into a "rescue facility." While this is an important function, it is already work being done by other well-respected organizations in the San Francisco area. What these animal activists are really asking is, "Why have a zoo as we know it?" Our love of animals has helped mold America's zoos and aquariums into popular institutions - 160 million visitors in North America last year. But what about the issue of whether we, as a society, are doing the right thing when it comes to zoos?  Mandatory standards for animal welfare, including state-of-the-art veterinary care and naturalistic habitats, have been in place for accredited zoos and aquariums for more than 20 years. As science advances, AZA accreditation standards rise. The San Francisco Zoo meets these standards, and after the December incident, the zoo underwent additional inspection and review to ensure that it continues to do so. In fact, AZA standards are the best roadmap for a successful zoo as the city plans for the future.

But the strongest argument for maintaining the San Francisco Zoo with its current focus is that it has become an essential organization in conservation, education and scientific research. Black rhinos provide a perfect example of the leading role zoos play in conservation. Their numbers in the wild have declined from an estimated 65,000 in 1970 to little more than 3,000 today. The San Francisco Zoo, which has produced 14 black rhino calves, participates in a species survival plan to optimize the reproduction of this endangered species. Along with 36 other zoos around the country and the International Rhino Foundation, the San Francisco Zoo played an important role in the reintroduction of black rhinos in Botswana. This project delivered the ultimate proof that zoos are essential to the survival of a species. No one else is doing this work.

Further, 218 accredited zoos and aquariums work on species survival plans to protect 180 other individual species. Dozens of species simply would not exist today without the efforts of zoos - from the California condor to the American bison. And, without the San Francisco Zoo, the American bald eagle would not have recovered from endangered status. Animal rights activists, in their attempt to capitalize on tragedy, aren't dissuaded from their views by the habitat improvements produced by stringent accreditation standards or by the species saved. Yet, by focusing on "why zoos?," they miss the more important question: "Should we let wild animals go extinct?" Zoo professionals today believe the most fundamental right of animals is of survival. These professionals understand that zoos must continue to earn the public's trust, becoming better facilities, better educators and better stewards of wildlife. Hard work and rising accreditation standards ensure that this will continue to happen.  There is no mystery about why animals fascinate us, and why zoos, and the San Francisco Zoo in particular, have a place in society. Humans are hardwired to connect with animals - we need them in some primordial way. But the fact remains that we not only want the ability to connect in person with rhinos and tigers - as well as rescue animals in need - we need to ensure animals' survival in the future, for them and for us. That's why now, more than ever, we need to preserve the San Francisco Zoo's wildlife conservation mission.

Jim Maddy is president and CEO of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He previously served as president of both the National Park Foundation and the League of Conservation Voters.

Japanese Zoo Monkeys Placed on Diet

July 3, 2008   www.keyetv.com

Around 50 Rhesus monkeys at a Japanese zoo have been put on strict diets after becoming so obese they could barely move. The monkeys weigh 3 times more than the average Rhesus monkey and zoo keepers are worried for their health.  The park's 24 hour opening is thought to be the main problem.  Many locals ignore the warning signs and feed them at night. The primates are now on a crash diet, with their calorie intake being cut nearly sixty-percent.  The monkeys are now being offered lower calorie food, like wheat snacks instead of sweet potatoes, and the diet is expected to last about a year.  There are also plans to build an enclosure which prevents park users throwing in food, and an exercise program may have to be introduced

Tiger Poaching in Nepal Wildlife Reserve

July 3, 2008  www.enn.com 

NEPAL -- The first systematic sampling of the Shuklaphanta Wildlife Reserve in border areas of western Nepal in May 2004 revealed a tiger density of 17 per 100 km2, an estimated 27 tigers for the 305 km2 reserve.  The monitoring program is run by WWF in conjunction with the National Trust for Nature Conservation and the Nepalese government Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, and a recent scientific monitoring program using camera traps in 93 locations carried out between December 2007 and March 2008 was able to identify only five tigers - two male and three female - in the Shuklaphanta core area. The park tiger population now stands at just seven, a density of just under three tigers per 100 km2. On government estimates, the total park tiger population stands between six and 14 tigers.  According to WWF two recent seizures of tiger bones inside the reserve as well as skin and bones from adjoining Dhangadi town and photographs of people with guns taken through camera traps are all indicative of organized poaching in Shuklaphanta.

WWF Attempts First Tiger Relocation

July 3, 2008   www.centredaily.com

WASHINGTON —  An endangered Bengal tiger was relocated to the Sariska tiger reserve in India on June 28th--an area where the entire tiger population was wiped out a few years ago.  The young male was airlifted by helicopter from the Ranthambore tiger reserve by the Government of Rajasthan and the Government of India with the help of WWF. The tiger is in good health and appears to be adapting to his new surroundings. He was outfitted with a tracking collar provided by WWF to allow reserve staff to monitor his whereabouts and ensure his safety after release. The tiger is currently in an enclosure while scientists closely observe his movements and behavior. When scientists are confident of his progress, the tiger will be released into the open reserve. Additional tigers are expected to be introduced in the near future, the next being a female tiger also from Ranthambore, which could be transported as soon as next week. Sybille Klenzendorf, director of WWF's Species Conservation Program said, "The killing off of the entire population in Sariska was devastating, but we hope the reintroduction of the species in this reserve will spawn a new population and ultimately expand the region where tigers can grow and flourish."  There may be as few as 1,400 wild tigers remaining in India and fewer than 4,000 wild tigers left in the world. The tiger relocation was undertaken by the Forest Department, the Government of Rajasthan, the Wildlife Institute of India, the National Tiger Conservation Authority, the Ministry of Environment & Forests, the Ministry of Defense, the Government of India, the Indian Air Force and WWF.

57th CITES Meeting is Scheduled

July 3, 2008  www.iisd.ca

The 57th meeting of the Standing Committee is scheduled to be held in Geneva, Switzerland, from 14 to 18 July 2008. On the morning of the first day, there will be a meeting of the Finance Subcommittee of the Standing Committee. Both meetings will take place at the Centre International de Conférences de Genève (CICG, Geneva, Switzerland).  Members of the Standing Committee and observers will be discussing strategic and administrative matters; interpretation and implementation of the Convention, including review of resolutions and decisions, compliance and enforcement, trade control and marking, exemptions and special trade provisions, species trade and conservation, and  amendment of the appendices; and the reports of Regional representatives. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary report of the meeting will be available on this website on Monday, 21 July 2008.

G8 Climate Scorecard Finds US Is Last

July 3, 2008  www.nytimes.com 

BERLIN -- The U.S. has done the least among the world's eight largest economies to address global warming.  The G-8 Climate Scorecards 2008, was released Thursday ahead of next week's gathering of the U.S., Japan, Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Russia.  It  found that none of the eight countries are making improvements large enough to prevent temperature increases that scientists think would cause catastrophic climate changes. The scorecard ranked Britain as the developed nation that has done the most to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, while France and Germany are close behind. Germany was praised for its investment in renewable energy. The scorecard was compiled by Ecofys, a Dutch consulting company, and commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund and insurer Allianz SE. The study criticized low energy efficiency in the U.S., but said there was hope in legislation under consideration by Congress and initiatives led by non-governmental groups. The study also analyzed -- but did not rank -- five of the world's fastest growing economies: Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. ''These countries cannot be measured with the same ruler as industrialized countries,'' the statement said.

Condor Chicks Evacuated as Wildfire Advances

July 3, 2008  malibusurfsidenews.com  BY REBECCA DMYTRYK

Lightning ignited heavy brush in a small rugged canyon eventually becoming known as the Gallery Fire. Since June 21, the Gallery Fire merged with the Basin Fire in the Ventana Wilderness. Nearly 90,000 acres of wilderness have been destroyed. In the early stages of the Gallery Fire it was not clear whether a group of captive California condors should be disturbed and moved from their flight pens in a remote area, just south of Big Sur. The eight birds, one adult male mentor and seven juveniles, are part of a reintroduction program administrated by the Ventana Wildlife Society.  Their secluded condor release site is used to prepare captive-born condors for life in the wild—acclimating them to their surroundings  and allowing them to socialize with wild condors that visit the facility. Hoi, the adult condor, mentors the youngsters, teaching them social etiquette and survival skills. With only 315 California  condors in existence, fewer than half living in the wild, these birds are invaluable to the species’ future.

By Sunday morning, the fire was shifting directions and gaining ground. The call was made to evacuate the condors. By that time however, Highway 1 had been closed and all road access to the condor  santuary was shut down. The only way they could be rescued was by helicopter. Fire resources were spread thin tending to the near 1100 blazes in California. Having called upon the Coast Guard once before for a sea lion rescue off Point Dume, I decided to give them a call and they were eager to help if only they could find an available air crew and get approval for the mission. I called the state Office of Emergency Services as the Coast Guard suggested and found that they too were willing to look into allocating resources to help the birdsA Coast Guard unit had been assigned to the mission, and the Governor’s Office called with instructions to rescue the birds from danger. By 3:45 p.m., the first leg of the operation was underway. A team of three biologists from Ventana Wildlife Society boarded the Coast Guard  helicopter at Monterey Jet Center air­field. They were going to be dropped off as close to the facility as possible, hike in, confine  the birds into dog crates, and use their one ATV to transport the  animals back to the landing pad. They had four and a half hours of  daylight left. Joe Burnett, senior wildlife biologist for the condor program led the  rescue team. Joining him was Mike Tyner and Henry Bonifas. In over 90-degree temperature, the young men made their way down the dirt road toward the condors—a 2.5-mile trek. Ash floated down like  snow. The team worked quickly to capture and cage each of the nearly 20-pound birds. Over three hours passed before the first group of five condors was airlifted out of danger. They were quickly off­loaded to an awaiting vehicle that would take them to Pinnacles National Monument to be  housed in condor enclosures there. The Wildlife Society and Pinnacles have collaborated on condor recovery since 2003.

The fire swept across the canyon two days after the evacuation. It is still not known what, if anything, remains of the society’s condor flight pens and research cabin. While the rescued condors are safely housed at Pinnacles, attention has turned to the fate of the wild-flying condors, including three chicks. The condors are fitted with radio transmitters. Joe and his team are tracking the birds daily, hoping to confirm that all forty or so birds are still alive. At this point, one female, Condor 222, is unaccounted for. She is the mother of one of the chicks. Joe spotted her in a snag near the facility as the last of the birds were evacuated. Condors, like most diurnal birds, do not fly at night. She may have stayed roosting as the fire advanced. As for the three chicks, we know that two are safe in their nests. The third—its condition is unknown. The fire burned everything around its red­wood home. We hope its old growth home pro­tected it from the fire and heat. As for the facility, with luck, it survived. If not, it will mean starting over to rebuild the enclosures and research facility. Anyone in­terested in getting in­volved or helping to sup­port this program, can contact Ventana Wildlife Society’s executive director, Kelly Sorenson, at 831-455-9514.

Necropsy Report on Multiple Wolf Deaths

July 3, 2008  www.fws.gov  By Elizabeth Slown

Nine Mexican wolves have died in the wild since the beginning of 2008.  Foul play was responsible for three of the deaths, according to USFWS.  Necropsy results from the Service's wildlife forensic laboratory are still pending for one wolf.  Female wolves known as AF1111, AF1112 and AF1113 were illegally shot.  The fate of AM583 has yet to be determined.  Mexican wolves are identified by numbers preceded with an 'F' to show adult female gender and an 'M' for adult male gender.  The 'A' signifies the wolf was the lead, or alpha member, of the pack.  Generally only the alpha members of a pack mate and bear young.  Killing a Mexican wolf is a violation of the Federal Endangered Species Act.  It can result in criminal penalties of up to $50,00

Snow Monkeys Die at Highland Wildlife Park

July 4, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk

Three of the Japanese snow monkeys introduced to the Highland Wildlife Park, near Aviemore, as a major tourist attraction have died.  The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SSPCA) said a male from one troupe was killed by the dominant male from another. A second animal had to be put to sleep and a third one drowned.  The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS), which runs the site, confirmed they died in February.  Iain Valentine, RZSS head of animals, said the deaths followed a struggle for dominance between the first group and a second introduced later.  He said: "As a result, the alpha male from one group killed the alpha male in the other. Two other members of the group also died. "This behaviour happens regularly in the wild and intervening would have resulted in serious repercussions for the social structure and long-term future of the group."  Mr Valentine said a third group has since been introduced and has settled down.  "There are currently around 24 macaques and the Scottish SPCA is satisfied with the animals' welfare at this moment in time."

Avian Malaria found in Galápagos Penguins

July 4, 2008   whc.unesco.org

On July 1st the Galápagos National Park announced that the parasite causing avian malaria was found in several Galápagos penguins by researchers studying the presence and distribution of diseases in Galápagos birds. Immediate follow-up studies are needed to document the proportion of birds infected with the parasite throughout the four-island distribution of the penguin, and to begin to estimate the impact of this parasite and consider approaches to disease control to prevent its spread across the penguin population and transmission to other bird species. The Galápagos penguin is already classified as Endangered by IUCN, and its numbers have been in general decline since monitoring began in the 1980’s. IUCN estimates a total current population of only 1,770 penguins.

Analyzing Flight – No Biomimicry

July 5, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

No workable flying machines have ever resembled nature's fliers.  There is little comparison between a top of the range military chopper and the bumblebee, despite similar flight patterns. In an era in which engineers are increasingly exploiting designs from nature, understanding this paradox is becoming ever more important. Dr Jim Usherwood, from the Royal Veterinary College, has studied the reasons behind these differences in aerodynamics and concluded that scientists should, in this instance, be more hesitant before imitating nature.  Dr Usherwood believes the reason that flying creatures don't look like man made machines is all to do with the need to flap. "Animals' wings, unlike propellers, have to keep stopping and starting in order produce lift (animals have forgotten to invent propellers, just as they forgot wheels)," he explains. "Think of vigorous waving, or perhaps exuberant rattling of a cocktail shaker - this takes a fair amount of power to overcome inertia. So, the idea is that both wing shape and how wings are used can be understood better if the effort of flapping is remembered, which explains why vultures don't look like gliders, and most winged creatures, from insects to pigeons, fly so inefficiently."

Miller Park Zoo Teaches Healthy Eating Habits

July 6, 2008  www.pantagraph.com

BLOOMINGTON -- Several dozen children received a lesson in healthy eating, exercise and hygiene at the Miller Park Zoo.  Zookeeper Tiffany Villwock said Zoo CAFE (Children, Animals, Food, Enrichment) has a purpose. “We want the kids to see that good nutrition means longer lives for our animals and that it is important for them to adopt good eating habits,too.”   To that end, children packed Cheerios, figs and pieces of watermelon into recycled toilet paper spools, which were squeezed shut at the ends and put into the meerkat exhibit. The animals clawed and chewed on the spools to retrieve the food.  By concealing food in the paper spools, the animals were forced to figure out the most efficient way to get it out, an exercise that keeps them mentally and physically fit.  The program, sponsored by The Pantagraph and Cub Foods, is expected to continue at least for the remainder of the year. The Zoo CAFÉ, where children can make pretend treats for zoo animals, is open daily during regular zoo hours of 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. On Thursdays at 11 a.m., a zookeeper supervises the making of actual treats for zoo animals. “It seems to be pretty popular,” Villwock said.  Children taking part in the program get a bag of healthy treats such as raisins, pretzels and granola bars — but only after they sanitize their hands, another life lesson.

3-Part Story of Raising Orangutan Mahal

July 6, 2008  www.jsonline.com 

A baby orangutan named Mahal, is the Milwaukee County Zoo’s newest attraction.  He has his own web page at:  www.jsonline.com/mahal  which includes video, slideshows, orangutan sounds and interactive graphics. A camera outside Mahal's enclosure is dubbed the "Good Morning, Mahal Cam." It is on 24/7, but the best viewing times are in the morning, when Mahal wakes and is feeling playful. There is downloadable desktop wallpaper featuring Mahal, a coloring page with a drawing contest for kids and a children's book version of Mahal's story entitled "Little Mahal and the Big Search for a Real Mom."  The book costs $3.95, and the extra $2 covers shipping and handling. Allow two to three weeks for delivery. A portion of the proceeds will go toward orangutan rescue efforts.

Horned Guan at St. Louis Zoo

July 6, 2008   www.stltoday.com

The horned quan is one of the rarest birds in the world. Fewer than 1,000 remain in the wild in the cloud forests of Mexico and Guatemala. The only place in America where you can see them is at the St. Louis Zoo. They’re almost as big as a turkey, with a bright white chest laced with fine lines of black feathers, and their bodies are covered with a jet black plumage that shines an iridescent blue in the sun. But their most prominent feature is the 2-inch-long brilliant red horn — sticking straight up from the crown of their heads.  Apart from a recent field study conducted by Michael Macek, St. Louis curator of birds, and Ellen Dierenfeld, Zoo nutritionist, they have only been studied by one man, Fernando Gonzalez Garcia of the Instituto de Ecologia in Veracruz, Mexico.
They live in two major isolated populations, one in Guatemala and another in Mexico, in high-altitude pine-oak cloud forests. The terrain is difficult — steep, slippery slopes — and the vegetation is so dense that you are much more likely to hear a horned guan than see one. When disturbed, they scream with a heart-stopping, intense guttural shriek.  The St. Louis Zoo was the first in the United States to display these birds. We work closely with three zoos in Mexico to study them. I recently visited one of them, Africam Safari in Puebla, Mexico, while on a trip to speak at a conference of zoo directors from 11 Latin American countries.  Amy Camacho is the director of Africam Safari and Juan Cornejo is its curator of birds and international studbook keeper for the horned guan.  Only three of the 11 zoos in Mexico have been able to get them to breed. The St. Louis Zoo was the first to successfully artificially inseminate a relative of the horned guan, the piping guan.

Translocation Success for Black Rhinoceros

July 7, 2008  www.wildlifejournals.org

Fighting and accidental injury after translocation are common causes of death in the black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis).  Wayne Linklater of the Centre for African Conservation Ecology at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Ron Swaisgood , from the Zoological Society of San Diego’s Conservation and Research for Endangered Species are the authors of a paper addressing the effects of reserve size and release density on injury and death of the black rhinoceros. Traditionally considered risk factors, rhino sex, age, and presence of resident conspecifics, were superseded by the risk posed by releases into smaller reserves. Reserves ≤11,500 ha and release densities ≤9 km2/rhino pose an increasing risk to rhino survivorship and so larger reserves and lower densities than these should be favored as release sites.   The study appears in the Journal of Wildlife Management 72(5):1059–1068; 2008

Edinburgh Zoo Officials Will Go To China

July 7, 2008  thescotsman.scotsman.com  By SUSAN MANSFIELD

Edinburgh Zoo officials will travel to China this month to continue talks about bringing a pair of giant pandas to Scotland.David Windmill, the chief executive of the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) and Iain Valentine, head of animals and conservation at the zoo, signed a letter of intent with officials at the Wolong Panda Conservation and Research Centre last May just a week before the earthquake hit the region. The zoo has sent money and communications equipment to help in the aftermath of the disaster. The Scotsman has learned they now plan to travel to China to see the impact of the earthquake at first hand and offer further assistance. "We'd like to get information on the situation first hand, and find out exactly what the impact will be on our plans."  The zoo had been hoping that a formal agreement on the loan of the pandas could be signed by Gordon Brown during the Beijing Olympics this summer.

Proposal to Reclaim San Diego Zoo Funding

July 7, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com  By Jeanette Steele

Last year, more than $12.6 million in city property taxes went to the zoo. The amount accounted for about 6 percent of the nonprofit zoological society's total revenue, which was $202 million in 2007. City Heights attorney John Stump wants the city to reclaim the money, which would require voter approval.  The special tax dates to 1934, when voters decided to set aside 2 cents for every $100 of property value to support maintenance of the Balboa Park zoo.  Stump thinks the city-maintained park itself, not the nonprofit zoo, has the greater need for cash these days.  Various reports have estimated the park's maintenance backlog at $102 million to $238 million. The need for more funding is driving the current debate over forming a nonprofit conservancy to help oversee and raise donations for the park. A City Council committee didn't support the ballot proposal last month, when Stump asked for a November vote on the issue. He says he will take the issue to the entire City Council this month. If the council ignores his request, he would have to gather more than 86,000 signatures to force an election.  Stump’s proposal, the Zoo’s financial documents and city attorney analyses are at  http://www.signonsandiego.com/more/documents/

Como Zoo Vet Retires and Becomes Volunteer

July 7, 2008  www.startribune.com   By CHRIS HAVENS

Ralph Farnsworth or Doc, as he's known around the St. Paul zoo, retired last week after more than 40 years of treating the animals. The 71-year-old veterinarian said his career didn't come with much of a handbook, so he forged ahead using common sense, intestinal fortitude and animal tranquilizers.  The problem with working with zoo animals, he said, is simple: If you get hurt, you probably get killed.  A few things he has learned:
• Animals are resilient. Sometimes it's best to give nature a chance to be a healer.
• Given the choice, it's better to be on a plane with a gorilla than a horse. "A gorilla has a lot more sense than a horse."
• Sometimes more rewarding than just keeping animals healthy is knowing that people will be able to keep seeing the species.
• If it's not scary working in an animal's pen, then you're not being careful.

Marine Stewardship Promoted at Bristol Zoo Gardens

July 7, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

A new partnership project between Bristol Zoo Gardens and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) will feature:
• New displays in the Bristol Zoo Gardens aquarium alerting visitors to the link between seafood choices and marine conservation.
• Education sessions for schools to teach children about sustainable fishing practices.
• Encouraging visitors to look for the MSC ecolabel when shopping for seafood.
• MSC-labelled sustainable seafood options in the Pelican Restaurant at Bristol Zoo Gardens and an exhibition helping visitors identify certified sustainable seafood when out shopping.

The project is funded by the Ocean Fund of Royal Caribbean International which was set up in 1996 to support marine conservation organizations in preserving the world's oceans. The mission of the Ocean Fund is to support efforts to restore and maintain a healthy marine environment, minimize the impact of human activity on this environment, and promote awareness of ocean and coastal issues and respect for marine life.

The Rhino With Glue-on Shoes

July 7, 2008  toledoblade.com

“The Rhino With Glue-On Shoes: And Other Surprising True Stories of Zoo Vets and Their Patients” is a collection of true stories edited by veterinarians Lucy Spelman and Ted Mashima.  The book contains 28 essays from wild-animal veterinarians worldwide, and includes a 16-page color insert with a photo of each featured animal or, if none is available, one of its species. The book gets its title from the experience Spelman had with a one-horned rhinoceros named Mohan at the National Zoo. Mohan's feet repeatedly developed diseased tissue that had to be cut away, at times requiring anesthesia. When Spelman attended a lecture on wild rhinos, she realized Mohan's toenails were completely worn down from walking on hard ground in captivity, and another veterinarian suggested using epoxy to temporarily adhere aluminum shoes like those worn by horses and performed the task. Mohan's nails grew out, although the chronic infection slowly returned and he was moved to a swampier exhibit in a warmer climate. Some stories take place in the wilds, not a zoo.

Bird Migration Study

July 7, 2008  www.news.uiuc.edu  By Diana Yates

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A new analysis indicates that birds don’t fly alone when migrating at night. Some birds, at least, keep together on their migratory journeys, flying in tandem even when they are 200 meters or more apart.  The study, from researchers at the University of Illinois and the Illinois Natural History Survey, appears this month in Integrative and Comparative Biology. It is the first to confirm with statistical data what many ornithologists and observers had long suspected: Birds fly together in loose flocks during their nocturnal migration.  Ronald Larkin, a professor of animal biology, conducted the new study with Robert Szafoni. In the new analysis, the researchers took a fresh look at bird-flight data Larkin had collected in the 1970s and ’80s using low-power-density tracking radar. The radar directs microwaves in a narrow cone – a “pencil-beam” that can be pointed at virtually any target within range.  After analyzing dozens of trials, the researchers determined that a significant proportion of the pairs of birds they had tracked were flying at the same altitude, at the same speed and in the same direction. Some of these birds were quite far apart, more than 200 meters away from each other – a distance of nearly two football fields  – and yet they were traveling together.  To determine whether the birds were just being swept passively along by prevailing winds or whether they were actively staying together, the researchers analyzed the flight patterns of insects and other arthropods occupying the same air space at the same time. These tiny creatures would be at the mercy of the wind and so would give the researchers a reliable picture of the pattern of air currents.  That analysis demonstrated that the birds were following their own course and were not simply being blown along by the wind.

Smithsonian Coral Survey of Panama's Pearl Islands

July 7, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

A comprehensive survey of coral biodiversity in Panama's Las Perlas Archipelago, published in the journal Environmental Conservation by researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and their colleagues, has resulted in clear conservation recommendations for a new coastal management plan.  "To evaluate strategies for the protection of natural resources in the Las Perlas archipelago, we gathered basic information about coral species distributions. Our recommendations include large conservation units, "no take zones" and marine reserves, with an emphasis on the northern part of the archipelago, and extremely careful regulation of fishing, tourism and development," said Smithsonian staff scientist, Hector Guzman.  The Las Perlas Islands in the Gulf of Panama are one of two archipelagos in the Tropical Eastern Pacific. The other is the Galapagos. The authors conducted an extensive biodiversity inventory, determining coral distribution and species richness across the region. They counted a total of 57 coral species: 19 hard (scleractinian) corals and 38 soft corals (octocorals). For comparison, the species count for Panama's Pacific biodiversity hotspot in the Gulf of Chiriqui is 74, whereas near Caño Island Biological Reserve, Costa Rica's hot spot, there are 43 coral species.

AIDS-like virus threatens Queensland Koalas

July 7, 2008  bridgetown.yourguide.com.au

Koalas across Queensland are dying from the spread of an AIDS-like virus which weakens their immune system, and could become extinct within 15 years, a leading researcher says. ''We're seeing a 100 per cent infection rate in the populations we're studying. On those figures, it should be considered a disease epidemic,'' Australian Wildlife Hospital research director Jon Hanger said. The disease, known as koala retrovirus, was genetically sequenced by Dr Hanger in 1999 and has been linked to 80 per cent of deaths in captive koalas in Queensland from leukaemia, lymphoma, malignant tumours and immune deficiency disorders.

Biomimicry: Whales & Dolphins Influence Turbine Design

July 7, 2008   www.enn.com 

Sea creatures have evolved over millions of years to maximise efficiency of movement through water.  By studying the flippers, fins and tails of whales and dolphins, biologists and engineers have discovered some features of their structure that contradict long-held engineering theories. Dr Frank Fish will talk about the exciting impact that these discoveries on traditional industrial designs at the Experimental Biology's Annual Meeting in Marseille.  Some of his observations are already being applied to real life engineering problems, a concept known as biomimetics. The shape of whale flippers with one bumpy edge has inspired the creation of a completely novel design for wind turbine blades. This design has been shown to be more efficient and also quieter, but defies traditional engineering theories. "Engineers have previously tried to ensure steady flow patterns on rigid and simple lifting surfaces, such as wings. The lesson from biomimicry is that unsteady flow and complex shapes can increase lift, reduce drag and delay 'stall', a dramatic and abrupt loss of lift, beyond what existing engineered systems can accomplish," Dr Fish advises. "There are even possibilities that this technology could be applied to aeronautical designs such as helicopter blades in the future."

The work centers on studies of vortices, tornado-shaped water formations that develop in the wake of the animals. "In the case of the humpback whale, vortices formed from tubercles (bumps) on the front edge of flippers help to generate more lift without the occurrence of stall, as well as enhancing manoeuvrability and agility," explains Dr Fish. "In the case of the tails of dolphins, vortices are formed at the end of the up and down strokes. These vortices are involved in the production of a jet in the wake of the dolphin that produces high thrust. By regulating the production of the vortices, the dolphin can maximize its efficiency while swimming."  More information is at: http://www.sebiology.org/meetings/Marseille/Programme_by_day.html

National Park for Cameroon

July 7, 2008  www.africanews.com

Owona Ebambou is a young and dedicated Cameroonian who works as a sociologist for the Coastal Forests/Sawa Programme. He is a key player in identifying key areas for protection and hopes to establish a National Park in Ebo in Cameroon's Littoral Province.  The area has a significant density of endemic plants and animal species.  Commercial logging has caused a 50% reduction in the forest there. Primate species include the Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus), the Chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes), Elephants (Loxodonta Africana cyclotis), Gorilla (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) and African buffalo (Syncerus caffer nanus).  Unfortunately, these animal species have been exposed to incessant poaching activities.  Hunting communities have sprawled all over the area, further aggravating the poaching incidence. Proposals and work plans exist between WWF Netherlands and WWF Sawa through WWF Cameroon Country Programme and WWF Central African Programme Offices to conserve the remaining forest area.

The Last Palestinian Zoo

July 8, 1008  www.chron.com

Qalqilya Zoo, on the western edge of the West Bank, is not mentioned in any guidebook. It's situated at the heart of Qalqilya, a Palestinian farming town whose produce was once purchased by both Israelis and Palestinians at its bustling souq (market). But that was before two intifadas (armed uprisings) and years of turmoil laid waste to the town's economy, leaving residents poverty stricken and confined behind razor-wire fences and concrete security walls. Yet here, in the first Hamas-led municipality, one gem has astonishingly remained intact: the last Palestinian zoo, complete with Dubi, its resident hippo. Dr. Sami Khader, the Palestinian Territories' only zoo veterinarian. At his command, "Eftah, (open),  Dubi obligingly opens his mouth for inspection. Dr. Khader also has lions' noses to scratch, a game of ball to play with a baby baboon named Rambo, and schoolchildren to shepherd around his own colorful, highly eccentric Natural History Museum.  His goal is to create an "International Zoo," with roomy enclosures, jungle gyms and a bigger pool,  But poverty, military curfews and a historic lack of interest from the outside world are obstacles.  Animal stocks are slowly dwindling, and many of the creatures taxidermied in his museum -- including Brownie, a prize giraffe -- are those killed during periods of conflict.

History of Lehigh Valley Zoo

July 8, 2008  wfmz.com

SCHNECKSVILLE,  Pennsylvania -- The Lehigh Valley Zoo is part of the Trexler Nature Preserve.  It started as a game preserve in 1906 when General Harry Trexler began purchasing small farms in Lowhill and North Whitehall Townships. He wanted to create a private hunting preserve. Trexler, a local industrialist, used the land to protect elk, white- tailed deer and bison.  But Trexler died in a car accident in 1933 and the 1100-acre preserve was given to the county.  Over the years, more animals were collected, and, in the 1940s, a small zoo was added to the preserve's Central Range, which later developed into a children's zoo – similar to today’s roadside zoos.  It had wildebeests, zebras, monkeys, and at one time,  black bears.   During the late 1990s, Lehigh County Executive,  Jane Baker proposed a 35 million dollar revitalization plan that would turn the preserve into a safari-like theme park. But, political wrangling and controversy about the proposal going against General Trexler's intentions forced Baker to drop the plan in 2000.  In the years that followed the zoo almost closed, but a petition drive and public input at county meetings persuaded commissioners to accept proposals to lease the property. The Lehigh Valley Zoological Society was formed and the county agreed to lease the zoo to the society in 2004. The zoo became known as the Lehigh Valley Zoo and the game preserve became the Trexler Nature Preserve. The master plan for the nature preserve is in fact that the elk and the bison would not be here in the long term, but because of the zoo's interest in both species, they are still part of the zoo.  Staff is also working on increasing attendance, building new exhibits and delivering a high quality of care to all of the animals.

USFWS Protects Species in Mexico

July 8, 2008  www.fws.gov   By Craig Rieben

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded $562,000 in grants to support conservation of a wide range of Mexican wildlife species, including monarch butterflies, jaguar, migratory bats and migratory birds.  Service Director H. Dale Hall said, "Partnering with the Government of Mexico in managing these grants will help protect the rich biological inheritance shared by our two nations." The grants are awarded through the Service's Wildlife Without Borders-Mexico Program, using funds designated by the U.S. Congress for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  The funding is provided to work with the Government of Mexico in building the local capacity for biodiversity conservation and management. The grants will leverage over one million dollars in additional contributions from an array of partners, including the Government of Mexico and not-for profit organizations.  "These grants provide critical support for efforts to develop Mexico's capacity to manage its own natural resources.  The two countries have a long history of cooperation aimed at protecting their important biological resources. This is true not only along the 2,000-mile border we share, but also the large number of migratory species which depend upon vital areas of habitat in both countries during their annual migrations," said Herb Raffaele, Chief of the Service's Division of International Conservation.

Desalination Plants in Southern California

July 8, 2008  explorations.ucsd.edu

Using either reverse osmosis or distillation, an estimated 13,000 desalination plants operate throughout the world, with the highest concentration around the Mediterranean and Arabian seas. But few studies have tracked the ecological impact of these plants.  At the end of the process, desalination plants that create a gallon of freshwater from every two gallons of seawater must find a way to dispose of the remainder. The by-product water has roughly double the salinity of seawater, a concentration well beyond the tolerance of most marine organisms. A handful of relatively small ocean desalination plants exist in California, but the state's Coastal Commission is reviewing another 20 proposed projects on a case-by-case basis.  A Poseidon project in Carlsbad, Calif. has come the farthest in the permitting process and could set the bar for the other proposed projects. In Carlsbad and Huntington Beach, Calif., Poseidon has proposed building desalination facilities on the grounds of existing power plants, using a fraction of the seawater used by the plants for cooling as source water for the reverse osmosis process, while the remainder is used to dilute the concentrated saltwater before it returns to the ocean. Each project would produce 50 million gallons of drinking water per day, enough to serve 300,000 people.

Recovery of Concho Water Snake

July 8, 2008   www.epa.gov

The best available scientific and commercial data indicate that the Concho water snake (Nerodia paucimaculata) has recovered. Therefore the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposes to remove (delist) the Concho water snake (Nerodia paucimaculata) from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife, and accordingly, also remove its federally designated critical habitat. The Concho water snake is a reptile endemic to central Texas. It was listed as threatened on September 3, 1986, due to threats of habitat modification and destruction (51 FR 31412). Through implementation of recovery efforts, the Service has determined that this species has been recovered and no longer meets the definition of threatened or endangered. Comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before September 8, 2008. Public hearing requests must be received by August 22, 2008.  For more information on recovery of the Concho water snake, see the recovery plan at http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/recovery_plan/930927b.pdf  We caution that research conducted since the recovery plan was completed in 1993 has modified our understanding of habitat requirement of the species.

Tracing an Ant Invasion

July 8, 2008  www.nytimes.com  By HENRY FOUNTAIN

In studying an invasive species, scientists want to know how it colonized a new territory — where, when and how it arrived, and with how many colonists. The red imported fire ant, Solenopsis invicta, is a major invasive pest in the Southern United States and other countries. Scientists know something about its arrival from its native South America: it came in a cargo ship that unloaded at the port of Mobile, Ala., sometime in the mid-1930s.  Now Kenneth G. Ross of the University of Georgia and D. DeWayne Shoemaker of the United States Department of Agriculture have estimated the number of colonists as well. (Since fire ant workers are sterile, the founders must have been mated queens.) The researchers combed through genetic data from ants in South America and the United States to determine the degree of genetic variation and then estimated the number of queens that would lead to such variation.  As they report in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, it is likely that the initial invasion consisted of only 9 to 20 unrelated queens, although results suggest there may have been one or more secondary invasions. Either way, a handful of queens is responsible for the spread of these ants in the South, where they sting people, disturb fields and make a nuisance of themselves.

Duckweed Genome Will Be Sequenced

July 8, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Three plant biologists at Rutgers' Waksman Institute of Microbiology (and 5 other institutions) have convinced the federal government to focus its attention on duckweed's tremendous potential for cleaning up pollution, combating global warming and feeding the world. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will channel resources at its national laboratories into sequencing the genome of duckweed (Spirodela polyrhiza) in 2009.  According to the researchers, duckweed plants can extract nitrogen and phosphate pollutants from agricultural and municipal wastewater. They can reduce algae growth, coliform bacterial counts and mosquito larvae on ponds, while concentrating heavy metals, capturing or degrading toxic chemicals, and encourage the growth of other aquatic animals such as frogs and fowl. These plants produce biomass faster than any other flowering plant, serve as high-protein feed for domestic animals and show clear potential as an alternative for biofuel production. The Spirodela genome sequence could unlock the remarkable potential of a rapidly growing aquatic plant for absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide, ecosystem carbon cycling and biofuel production.

California Condors Threatened by Fires

July 9, 2008  www.enn.com

A massive two week-old blaze is still sweeping through the scenic Big Sur area, and the fate of three condor chicks born in the wild in April is unknown. One nest was in the path of the fire and flames damaged an aviary where captive chicks are trained before being released into the wild.  "We have three mating condor pairs this year and three active nests that we are really concerned about. We don't know if the chicks are dead or not," said Cathy Keeran of the Ventana Wildlife Society. The society is the only nonprofit group releasing and managing California condors in the wild.  Keeran said eight captive chicks had been rescued by helicopter just before fire went through their home in the society's aviary in a remote Big Sur canyon last week. More than 80,000 acres and destroyed 48 homes and other buildings. Containment is not expected until the end of July.  Fire has already swept through a wild area where one of the condor chicks was nesting. "We did fly over the nest and we saw the area was burned but the redwood tree (containing the nest) was still standing," Keeran said.  The two other chicks have nests closer to the Pacific Ocean but their fate in the thick acrid smoke covering the region is not known, she said. California condors have a low breeding rate, laying eggs only once every two years, and chicks depend on their parents for more than a year.  The Ventana Wildlife Society (www.ventanaws.org) manages 43 wild condors in the Big Sur area. The birds are equipped with tracking devices and the society puts out food to supplement what the carrion-eaters find in the wild.  "We have a couple we have not been able to locate. Hopefully their transmitters are just not working properly," Keeran said. "Most are staying very low and towards the coast and in the fog line, so they are flying around the fire."

Scripps Researchers Determine Structure of Ebola Virus

July 9, 2008  www.nature.com

In the July 10, 2008 issue of the journal Nature, scientists from Scripps Research reveal the shape of the Ebola virus spike protein, which is necessary for viral entry into human cells, bound to an immune system antibody acting to neutralize the virus. The structure provides a major step forward in understanding how the deadly virus works, and may be useful in the development of potential Ebola virus vaccines, or treatments for those infected. Erica Ollmann Saphire, who led the five-year effort. There is currently no cure for Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The virus is spread when people come into contact with the bodily fluids of someone who is already infected. Most ultimately die from a combination of dehydration, massive bleeding, and shock. The best treatment consists of administering fluids and taking protective measures to ensure containment, like isolating the patient and washing sheets with bleach.

WWF Vehicle Ambushed in Congo

July 9, 2008  www.nytimes.com 

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) -- Unidentified gunmen ambushed a vehicle belonging to WWF in an eastern Congo gorilla reserve, killing two people and wounding three others, officials and a U.N.-funded radio station said Wednesday. Thierry Bodson, the local head of WWF said the gunmen carried out their attack late Monday in Kasoso in Virunga National Park.  A couple hundred of the 700 mountain gorillas left in the wild live in the Congo The vehicle was carrying 11 people, and the wife of a park guard and her daughter were killed. A park guard, the wife of another guard and a trainer WWF were wounded.  The attackers fled with five GPS tracking devices, the radio said. More than 120 rangers have been killed in Virunga park over the last decade.

Lawsuit Over Knut’s Earnings

July 9, 2008  ap.google.com 

The Neumuenster Zoo in northern Germany owns Knut's father, Lars, and says it is the legal owner of his first offspring — Knut — under a deal made with the Berlin Zoo, where the cub was born in 2006.  The Berlin Zoo has said it recognizes Neumuenster's ownership in principle, but maintains that does not give Neumuenster a right to any proceeds from the polar bear's huge success. The Berlin Zoo reported a 27 percent increase in visitors last year compared with 2006 and had a 2007 profit of nearly $10.7 million. It has licensing agreements for all kinds of Knut products, including stuffed animals, T-shirts, mugs and DVDs.  Neumuenster Zoo director Peter Druewa said in a statement that his zoo had unsuccessfully tried to negotiate with the Berlin Zoo but has now turned to a court in Berlin for a ruling. "We do not want to remove Knut from his environment," Druewa said. "But we have a right to our request for money."

Black Rhino Moves to Little Rock Zoo from Lincoln Park

July 9, 2008   www.wreg.com

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas -- The zoo announced Wednesday that it just received Navasha, a 26-year-old female black rhino from the Lincoln Park Zoo. Navasha was transferred to Little Rock after a recommendation from the Species Survival Plan, as a companion to 13-year-old Johari, who's been in Little Rock since 1996.  The pair has not yet met officially, though both rhinos are able to see each other occasionally.

Micke Grove Zoo Receives $150,000 Gift

July 9, 2008  www.lodinews.com   By Ross Farrow

Henry Hansen a Lodi restauranteur and civic leader, left more than $150,000 for the maintenance of Micke Grove Zoo and for other children's amusements there. Supervisor Ken Vogel said how the money is used will be subject to the Board of Supervisors' approval at a later date. However, Hansen stipulated in his will that it must fund youth activities at Micke Grove Zoo.  Hansen, who died in 2001 at the age of 95, was a good friend of Micke Grove Park founder William Micke. Micke frequently ate at Richmaid Restaurant and took Hansen on rides through Micke Grove Park, said Hansen's niece, Ingrid Hansen.

Baby Elephant Expected at Memphis Zoo

July 9, 2008  www.commercialappeal.com   By Linda Moore

African elephant, Asali is 10-months pregnant, and when her baby arrives a year from now (after a 22-month pregnancy), it will be the first baby elephant born at the Memphis Zoo in its 102- year-history.   Asali, 21, was born at the Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas, and has been in Memphis since 1998.  She was impregnated via artificial insemination last September with the combined sperm of bull elephants from Jacksonville, Fla., and Pittsburgh. They don't know which elephant is the father. The pregnancy was recommended by the African elephant species survival plan, which manages the genetic makeup of captive animals. Because Asali's DNA is not highly represented among captive elephants, it makes her a good breeding candidate. Tyranza, her 44-year-old female companion  will help her raise the new baby.

Endangered Cuyamaca Wildflowers Discovered

July 9, 2008  www.nature.org  

A second population of a small and endangered California wildflower (the Cuyamaca Lake Downingia) was recently found by Nature Conservancy ecologist, Zachary Principe.  The only other population is nearly 20 miles away, in the Cuyamaca Mountains of eastern San Diego County.  Principe made the find while traversing a conservation easement within eastern San Diego County which was recently donated to the Conservancy by the Wheatley family of Del Mar. [and the San Diego Zoo]  The dark blue flowers were blooming in the vernal pool area of the property. Vernal lakes and pools are also quite rare.  Depressions that fill up with our winter rains creating a temporary wetland that dries up every summer, 90-95% of California’s vernal pools have been lost to development.  A picture is at: http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/california/features/rareflower.html

Bronx Zoo Visitors Stuck in Skyfari

July 10, 2008  www.nytimes.com  By TRYMAINE LEE and AL BAKER

About three dozen cable car passengers on the Skyfari ride were stranded for nearly five hours on Wednesday night at the Bronx Zoo after an emergency mechanism caused the ride to shut down. The ride automatically shut itself down about 5:30 p.m. when a wheel on one of the 14 gondolas slipped off the overhead cable on which the ride operates. There were no reported injuries, but passengers were hungry and a bit cold. The three people inside the disabled car, which hung about 100 feet from the ground, were rescued first, about three hours after the shutdown using a crane with a basket attached. Once they were unloaded, workers began making repairs to the car. Police and fire officials said that 37 people were trapped, including seven children, at heights ranging from 60 to 100 feet. By 10:20 p.m., police rescuers and engineers had fixed the wheel mechanism on the disabled gondola, which restored power and normal functioning to the ride, moving the cars to the terminus and allowing the passengers to exit normally. Officials said the passengers would undergo a medical evaluation. One, seven months pregnant, was taken to a nearby hospital complaining of cramps.  Shortly before 11 p.m., a caravan of dark blue sedans from the Miles cab company pulled into a service entrance of the park to take the rescued visitors home, some with stuffed animals and prizes in their arms. Then waves of zoo workers who had stuck it out during the episode began to file out. Some of the riders were had dinner in one of the zoo’s restaurants, courtesy of the zoo. Others, she said, “just wanted to go home.”  John F. Calvelli, a spokesman for the zoo, apologized to those inconvenienced by the shutdown.

Preble's Meadow Jumping Mouse Ruling by USFWS

July 10, 2008   www.epa.gov

The USFWS has amended the listing for the Preble's meadow jumping mouse (Zapus hudsonius preblei) (Prebles)  The best scientific and commercial data available establishes that
1. The Prebles is a valid subspecies and should not be delisted based upon taxonomic revision.  2. The subspecies is not threatened throughout all of its range; and
3. The portion of the subspecies' current range located in Colorado represents a significant portion of the current range where the subspecies should retain its threatened status.
Prebles' populations in Wyoming are more widespread and threats to the subspecies less severe than those known at the time of listing, but that in Colorado the Prebles is likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future.  For further information contact: Susan Linner, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Colorado Field Office at 134 Union Blvd., Suite 670, Lakewood, CO 80228; telephone (303) 236-4773.

Former San Diego Panda Shi Shi Dies in China

July 10, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com 

Shi Shi, San Diego Zoo's first male panda, has died in China. He was at least 30 years old, and lived in San Diego from 1996 to 2003.  Through artificial insemination, in 1999 he fathered Hua Mei, the  panda cub that made San Diego famous internationally for its success  with panda breeding.  He died at the Ghuanzhou Zoo on July 5.

Fewer California Wildflowers

July 10, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com   By Scott LaFee

Three centuries ago, California was a blooming garden of wildflowers.  Orange California poppies, red monkeyflower, yellow fiddleneck, blue feltleaf, indigo lupine, white yarrow, lavender, sage, pink buckwheat and brown spotted coralroot, blanketed the land.  Even California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) are increasingly hard to find in natural abundance. “California's Fading  Wildflowers: Lost Legacy and Biological Invasions” (University of California Press), is a new book by Richard A. Minnich, a professor of ecology at the University of California Riverside.   He notes that in 1868, for example, John Muir described the Central Valley as a 400-mile-long, 30-mile-wide ocean of flowers. In 1 square yard of the valley floor, Muir recorded 16 plant species and 165,912 open flowers.  Making it tough for endemic flowers are invaders such as bromes. These are hardy bunched grasses that are found in temperate regions around the world, are too tough to be fodder, too plain to be ornamental plants.  Bromes like cheatgrass and other heat-tolerant invaders, such as summer mustard, thrived in the state's hotter, drier valleys and deserts. As with the coast, they quickly began squeezing out wildflowers.

The Minnesota Trail and Russia's Grizzly Coast Draws Crowds

July 10, 2008   www.startribune.com   By TIM HARLOW

The Minnesota Zoo had its highest attendance in nine years, drawing more than 1.162 million visitors for the fiscal year that ended June 30.  Memberships hit a new record, with 36,538 households representing more than 150,000 people.  Zoo officials attribute the jump in attendance and membership to last year's renovations to the Medtronic Minnesota Trail and its new $23.5 million "Russia's Grizzly Coast" exhibit, which opened June 7. The blockbuster exhibit featuring animals, vegetation and geological features of the Russian Far East, and is the only exhibit in the United States to have grizzly bears, sea otters, endangered Amur leopards and wild boars in a single exhibit, helped draw 221,414 visitors to the Apple Valley zoo in June. That is the second highest monthly total in zoo history. The highest  one-month attendance --  223,915 -- was recorded 30 years ago in June 1978, the first full month that the Minnesota Zoo was open.

Two Przewalski's Horses Born at National Zoo

July 10, 2008  www.washingtonpost.com   By Mike McPhate

Two rare horse foals have been born at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, officials announced today. They were born four days apart on June 27 and July 1.  "It's really significant for us," said a zoo spokeswoman Pamela Baker-Masson. "We've tried for a very long time to get [the father] to breed."  The Przewalski's horse, the closest living wild relative of the domestic horse, went extinct in the wild during the 1970s. Through breeding of those held in captivity, their numbers have grown to about 1,500.  The two foals, a filly and a colt, were sired by a 9-year-old stallion named Frog. Biologists have ranked the father the most genetically valuable Przewalski's horse in the U.S. because his genes are so rare among the breed's population. The mothers were brought over from Europe to breed with Frog in late 2006.

Northwest Florida ZOO’s Future Looks Grim

July 10, 2008  www.thedestinlog.com   By Dusty Ricketts

GULF BREEZE - Fund-raisers alone will not be able to keep The Zoo Northwest Florida in business.  The financially strapped zoo has struggled for years, but low attendance this year has made just paying employees and food venders for the animals difficult.  Representatives from the nonprofit zoo have asked the county for support to keep The Zoo open.  "We have to have a committed long-term solution. We can't fund-raise our way out of this problem," said Danyelle Lantz, The Zoo's executive director.  Lantz asked commissioners to consider adopting an interlocal governing authority that would include the county, the cities of Gulf Breeze and Milton, the Tourist Development Council and possibly Okaloosa and Escambia counties. The government agencies on board would agree to subsidize The Zoo by a total of $250,000 a year. After looking at some of The Zoo's financial figures, Commissioner Gordon Goodin questioned whether even a $250,000 annual subsidy would be enough to keep it going. He noted The Zoo is $200,000 in arrears with its bills.

Veterinary Science at Twycross Zoo

July 10, 2008  www.worcesternews.co.uk

The last ten years has seen a huge increase in the popularity of exotic pets: monkeys, tarantulas, iguanas, salamanders, snakes even hedgehogs.  And as animal collections and reserves around the world develop their conservation and captive breeding programs there is an increasing demand for expertise in the husbandry of exotic animals. The University of Nottingham has joined forces with Twycross Zoo to supply veterinarians with that expertise.  After five years in Asia studying musth in Asian bull elephants, veterinarian and reproductive physiologist Dr Lisa Yon, a lecturer in zoo and wildlife medicine, now spends half her working week at the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and the other half at Twycross Zoo.  Dr Yon, trained as a vet at Cornell University and studied reproductive physiology in elephants at UC Davis. “I was keen to work with wildlife from the very start but there was no proper guidance and I had to make my own way. I don’t want that to happen to our students. I want to ensure that students have opportunities to explore any interests they may have in zoo and wildlife work, and to encourage that interest as best I’m able.”

South African Lesser Flamingos Threatened

July 10, 2008  www.birdlife.org

The African population of Lesser Flamingo is declining due to a number of threats amongst which poorly planned development and water pollution are paramount. Proposed housing developments around Kamfers Dam will destroy approximately 350 hectares of the dam’s buffer zone. Kamfers Dam supports one of only four breeding populations of of Lesser Flamingos Phoeniconaias minor in Africa, and the only breeding population in South Africa. These birds bred during 2008, with an incredible 9,000 chicks hatching on the dam’s artificial flamingo breeding island. It is anticipated that regular breeding will reverse the negative population trend of this globally Near-Threatened species.   “The development of the site was a huge investment and would be a shame if it’s allowed to be destroyed by this threat” said Duncan Pritchard, the acting Executive Director of BirdLife South Africa (BirdLife in South Africa). Kamfers Dam is currently the depository for raw sewage that flows from the currently dysfunctional treatment plant, a result of poor management of the sewerage works by the Sol Plaatje Municipality. The increased constant eutrophication has led to severe algal blooms and may be responsible for the current lesions and abnormalities being recorded on some of the Lesser Flamingos. For more information see: The Save the Flamingo  website is at www.savetheflamingo.co.za

Elephant Calf Born at Pittsburgh zoo

July 11, 2008  www.ldnews.com

PITTSBURGH—A female elephant was born Wednesday to 26-year old African elephant, Savannah at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium.  Moja, another elephant at the zoo, is expecting any day. Zoo president Barbara Baker says Moja has set a record for the longest pregnancy by a captive elephant at 673 days—and counting.  Both elephants mated with the zoo's bull elephant, Jackson.

Snow Leopard Cubs at Oklahoma City Zoo

July 11, 2008  www.kten.com

OKLAHOMA CITY  - Visitors to the Oklahoma City Zoo soon will be able to see a pair of snow leopard cubs.  The two cubs weighed about 2 pounds at birth and have spent the past two months in seclusion with their mother.  It is the first litter of snow leopards born at the zoo in 16 years.

Wind Farm Could Impact Whooping Cranes

July 11, 2008  www.bismarcktribune.com  By LAUREN DONOVAN

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Starting in 2010, Florida Power and Light plans to install 667 turbines across the hills of Oliver and Morton counties which are on the Coteau flyway angling between northern Canada and Texas.  The flock that passes through here is the only self-sustaining colony of whooping cranes and the largest of three in the country. Under federal protection, like the bald eagle, the Wood Buffalo-Aransus colony is making a gentle comeback with 266 members compared to only 30 or so counted back in the '40s.  JeffreyTowner, USFW’s North Dakota field supervisor, said the agency knows of 46 whooping cranes killed since 1956 from striking power lines, and is concerned that an explosion of wind farms up and down the Great Plains' flyway will further endanger the rare birds. The agency plans to meet in Denver later in the week with 30 wind companies working the Great Plains region.  If all the parties can agree to what's called a "habitat conservation plan" for the cranes it would be the largest in number of states and participants ever developed by the federal agency.  "It's on the table now because we're seeing such a rapid increase in the number and size of wind power projects.  A map of the proposed wind farm site, is at www.bismarcktribune.com/wind .

33% of Coral Species Threatened with Extinction

July 11, 2008  www.latimes.com   By Kenneth R. Weiss

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. -- A recent worldwide assessment of more than 700 species of corals showed that 32.8% were threatened with extinction, especially those that formed large mounds or intricate branches resembling antlers.  Coral reefs provide hiding places and a habitat for 25% of all marine life and are a major source of food for the poor and of tourist revenue in tropical countries. Some of the threats are global, including elevated ocean temperatures that have stressed corals, but they also face excessive and destructive fishing and polluted runoff that buries them under sediment or bathes them in nutrients that fuel out-of-control growth of algae and bacteria.  Compounding the problem are various diseases that kill corals when they are under stress.  Using criteria established by the IUCN, a team of scientists determined that a loss of reefs and mounting threats had nudged the animals into the "critically endangered," "endangered" or "vulnerable" categories, leapfrogging other groups threatened with extinction.
"That makes corals the most threatened animals on Earth," said Greta Aeby, a coral disease expert at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. The results, released online Thursday by the journal Science, were presented at the International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale, where nearly 3,000 scientists and managers have gathered to learn about the latest scientific discoveries and try to figure out ways to save the world's reefs.

China Loses Track of Ivory

July 11, 2008  news.yahoo.com  By JOHN HEILPRIN 

UNITED NATIONS - China's government lost track of 121 tons of elephant ivory over a dozen years that probably was sold on illegal markets, according to a previously undisclosed Chinese report to U.N. regulatory officials. The "shortfall" in ivory described in the document between 1991 and 2002 — equal to the tusks from about 11,000 dead elephants — could provide fodder for representatives of a U.N. accord to reject China's attempt next week to gain permission to import more ivory.  "We have not been able to account for the shortfall through the sale of legal ivory by the selected selling sites in the country," Chinese officials reported in 2003 to the Swiss-based U.N. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, or CITES. "This suggests a large amount of illegal sale of the ivory stockpile has taken place."

Diet of Large Predators Anayzed

July 11, 2008  www.physorg.com 

Early studies found that the big predators such as tigers, lions, and lynxes fulfilled their dietary needs by eating one or two types of prey, but in a new study, scientists from the University of Malaga found that felines need from 5 to 7 different types of prey to fulfil their dietary needs. Researchers Juan Antonio Pérez-Claros and Paul Palmqvist, published their study in the Journal of Zoology.  They found that only the hypercarnivorous canines (wolves and other species related to dogs) have a diet consisting of three types of prey.  The dietary contribution of the canines prey, in terms of biomass, is equal to or higher than 55% for the first prey, 20% for the second and 10% for the third. On the other hand, the felines need more prey, although there are exceptions with the cheetah and the Iberian lynx, who concentrate a lot of ingested biomass in a few types of prey. This leads to a paradox: in spite of the fact that canines have cranial and dental skeletal characteristics that are less specialized compared to those of the felines, their populations are more specialized ecologically than the felines.  The canines are more omnivorous (they can eat more invertebrate prey and fruit) than the felines, since, even the hypercarnivorous still have a carnivorous set of teeth containing 42 permanent teeth, and molars, that make it possible for them to eat a greater variety of food.  The felines, have a smaller set of 30 permanent teeth and they are much more specialized.  They can kill with their canines and cut meat with their flesh-eating teeth.

Marine Turtle Permits Issued

July 11, 2008   www.epa.gov

Karen Holloway-Adkins, East Coast Biologists, Inc., P.O. Box 33715, Indialantic, FL, 32903 (File No. 13306) and Kristen Hart, 3205 College Ave., Davie, FL, 33314 (File No. 13307) have been issued permits to take green (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research.  For further information contact:  Kate Swails or Patrick Opay, (301)713-2289.

File No. 13306: Ms. Holloway-Adkins will capture up to 60 green and 5 loggerhead sea turtles annually. The turtles will be weighed, measured, flipper tagged, Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) tagged, and blood and tissue sampled. A subset of green turtles will be lavaged. The applicant will also conduct visual transect surveys. This research will characterize the turtle aggregation using the nearshore reef system of Brevard county, Florida as well as monitor the impact of local beach nourishment activities on the sea turtles and their habitat.

File No. 13307: Dr. Hart will capture up to 30 green, 20 hawksbill, and 20 loggerhead sea turtles annually. Turtles will be weighed, measured, flipper tagged, PIT tagged, blood sampled, tissue sampled, fecal sampled, and lavaged. A subset of turtles will be tagged with a satellite tag or acoustic transmitter or a combination of both. This research will address fine-scale temporal and spatial patterns of sea turtle habitat use, ecology, and genetic origin within the Dry Tortugas National Park.

West Nile Virus Found at WAP

July 11, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com

NORTH COUNTY: A pink pigeon has become the first rare bird at the Wild Animal Park to test positive for the West Nile virus.  The baby bird, which died, was a member of an endangered species from the island of Mauritius and was being kept in a remote, off-exhibit breeding facility at the North County park.  The park had previously diagnosed West Nile virus in a wild crow on its grounds, but the pigeon infection in May was the first found in a collection animal. San Diego County's environmental health department placed mosquito traps at the park during the first week of July, but no West Nile was detected among the insects caught, said Chris Conlan of the county's vector-control division.  Conlan said he would give the same advice to people going to the Wild Animal Park as to people anywhere in the county: If you are going out at dusk, wear insect repellent, as mosquitoes carry West Nile virus.  The dead pigeon's parents had been vaccinated to protect them from West Nile, but the nestling wasn't old enough to have received the vaccine, a park official said.

African Immersion at Wild Animal Park

July 14, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com  By Jeanette Steele

The Wild Animal Park in the San Pasqual Valley, plans to add eight exhibits to the year-old tour that takes guests around the “African” area of the Park.  The Union Tribunes Photo Gallery of new additions is at http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/wap-expand  Currently the animals are seen mainly on one side of the nearly three-mile tour path.  “We want people to feel a sense of immersion,” said park Curator of Birds Michael Mace. The $4.3 million needed for the new improvements will be raised through donations. Between 2006 and 2007, donors gave $23 million to fund an elephant exhibit now under construction at the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park zoo. At the animal park, CRES an endangered-species research center opened in 2005 with $10 million in private donations.  According to its 2007 financial statement, the Zoological Society had $202 million in annual revenue, of which $35 million was from charitable contributions. The total includes $12.6 million from San Diego property taxes based on a special assessment voters approved in 1934.  If the plan goes forward, some animals for the new exhibits will come from behind-the-scenes holding pens on the outskirts of the park's 1,800 acres. Others will be transfers from the zoo or imports from other North American zoos and breeding facilities. One species, the cape hunting dog, may come from an African breeding facility.  New animals will include:  the Somali wild ass, Hartmann's mountain zebra, the antelope-like klipspringer and the rock hyrax. Steenbok, another antelope look-alike and the greater flamingo are already on display at the park but will be relocated into the Africa exhibit for better viewing and larger quarters.  Bird inhabitants will include the lappet-faced vulture (last displayed at the zoo in the 1930s and new to the Park.)  When the biodiesel tram tour replaced the old Wgasa line, park officials promised a later phase would offer an “Asia” section. That's still the plan, but there's no timeline for it. 

Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge CCP

July 14, 2008   www.epa.gov

The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of requires USFWS to develop a CCP for each national wildlife refuge. The purpose for developing a CCP is to provide refuge managers with a 15-year plan for achieving refuge purposes and contributing toward the mission of the National Wildlife Refuge System.  The Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1975 pursuant to the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Emergency Wetlands Resources Act of 1986. The nearly 300-acre Ellicott Slough National Wildlife Refuge, located in Santa Cruz County, California, consists of three non-contiguous units within and adjacent to Ellicott Slough and associated watersheds. The Refuge was established to protect the endangered Santa Cruz long-toed salamander by supporting two of the twenty known breeding populations of the salamander. Due to the sensitivity of the habitat, the Refuge is closed to the public. Through this CCP process, we will determine whether any wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities should be made available to the public.  The USFWS intends to prepare a Comprehensive Conservation Plan (CCP) and Environmental Assessment (EA) for the Refuge. Written comments must be received by August 13, 2008.  Send via e-mail to : sfbaynwrc@fws.gov  Include ``Ellicott Slough CCP'' in the subject line of the message. Or mail to: San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex, 9500 Thornton Avenue, Newark, California 94560.  For further information contact: Winnie Chan, Refuge Planner, or Diane Kodama, Refuge Manager, at (510) 792-0222.

National Zoo’s Video and Photo Enthusiasts

July 14, 2008  www.washingtonpost.com 

Washington's National Zoo has 2,000 animals, 1,500 volunteers and 350 staff members. In this occasional Page Three feature, photographer Joe Elbert uses a video camera to show the animals to the world: http://washingtonpost.com/zootales .  In February 2006 after Tai Shan was born, Frances Nguyen, a Web designer began Pandas Unlimited, for panda enthusiasts.  The site is at: http://www.flickr.com/groups/pandasunlimited .  FONZ or  Friends of the National Zoo has its own photo club, with 40 members, according to Matt Olear, the FONZ media relations director. This group, started in 1994, uses its photography to support the zoo. Since 2005, the club has raised $10,000 for zoo initiatives, including giant panda and cheetah conservation programs.  The group meets monthly for presentations on technique, new technology and equipment and to share their recent photos. They organize photo-ops at the zoo and travel opportunities to other zoos and photography hot spots. Club members also can create photo galleries on the zoo/FONZ Web site at http://www.fonz.org/photoclub.htm

Bernardino Kangaroo Rat Incidental Take Permit

July 14, 2008   www.epa.gov 

The USFWS is considering issuing a 3-year permit to “Regency Centers” to authorize take of the federally endangered San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys Merriami parvus; ``SBKR''). The proposed permit would authorize the take of an individual SBKR. The Applicant needs the permit because take of SBKR could occur during the proposed construction of a commercial development on an 8.4-acre site in the City of Highland, San Bernardino County, California. The permit application includes the proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (Plan), which describes the proposed action and the measures that the Applicant would undertake to minimize and mitigate take of the SBKR.  Please submit written comments on or before September 12, 2008 to Mr. Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, California 92011. You also may send comments by facsimile to (760) 918-0638. For further information contact:  Ms. Karen Goebel, Assistant Field Supervisor [see ADDRESSES] or call (760) 431-9440. You may obtain copies of these documents for review by contacting the above office and at the San Bernardino County Libraries. Addresses for the San Bernardino County Libraries are: (1) 27167 Base Line, Highland, CA 92346; (2) 25581 Barton Rd, Loma Linda, CA 92354; (3) 1870 Mentone Boulevard, Mentone, CA 92359; and (4) 104 West Fourth Street, San Bernardino, CA 92415.

New Primate Species in Madagascar

July 14, 2008  idw-online.de
Number of known mouse lemur species has now increased to 16. Dr. Ute Radespiel from the Institute of Zoology of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, and Malagasy scientists and students of the GERP (Groupe d`Étude et de Recherche sur les Primates de Madagascar), have described a new primate species.  Their description is published on the American Journal of Primatology web site: http://www.interscience.wiley.com/ajp The small nocturnal mouse lemur species has been named Microcebus macarthurii, MacArthur`s mouse lemur. The species lives in eastern Madagascar in the dense, evergreen mountainous rainforests of the Makira region. They were discovered by the Malagasy scientists when inventorying the lemur fauna of the area. Since the project is being supported by the MacArthur Foundation from the USA the new species has been named after the Foundation.  To date, this generally unknown species has been sighted only in the Makira region. The scientists suspect that the natural range of the MacArthur`s mouse lemur is very small, as several large rivers and a mountain range cut through the region - these natural barriers could limit the mouse lemur's dissemination.

Hippo Bites Denver Zookeeper

July 14, 2008   www.vaildaily.com   By Alan Gathright

DENVER, Colorado — A 16-year veteran keeper at the Denver Zoo suffered a hand puncture today when a hippopotamus chomped down during routine dental training.  The woman keeper was bitten as she and colleagues were doing desensitizing training on Mahali, a 5-year-old male hippo. "Mahali was asked to hold his mouth open while a keeper tapped on his teeth," said a zoo spokeswoman. The training helps condition the animal "so he's more comfortable having hands or any dental tool in his mouth," she said. "For unknown reasons, Mahali decided to close his mouth while one of our keepers had her left hand in his mouth.”  Fortunately a smaller tooth — not a large tusk — inflicted the injury.  The keeper quickly freed her hand by popping him on the side of his nose. “He opened his mouth right up," Bowie said.  "She walked away and we kept pressure on (the wound), while other keepers called 911 and paramedics transported her to the hospital by ambulance.

Black-footed Ferret Colony Decimated by Plague

July 15, 2008  www.nytimes.com   By JIM ROBBINS

WALL, S.D. — A colony that contains nearly half of the black-footed ferrets in the country and which biologists say is critical to the long-term health of the species has been struck by plague.  A third of the 300 animals may have been killed.  In the 1970s only 18 animals existed, but the species had been coming back for decades.  But the ferrets are an easy target for the bacteria. “They are exquisitely sensitive to the plague,” said Travis Livieri, a wildlife biologist who is trying to save the colony. “They don’t just get sick, they die. Livieri is working with the USFWS black-footed ferret recovery team, the Forest Service and some volunteers to try to save the colony at Conata Basin by dusting prairie dog burrows with flea powder that kills the plague-carrying insects. Mr. Livieri is also working on a vaccination program, prowling the prairie all night to capture ferrets for injections. But while the federal Forest Service is part of the effort to protect ferrets, it has also, at the request of area ranchers, poisoned several thousands of acres of prairie dogs (chief prey of the ferret) on the edge of the Conata Basin, a buffer strip of federal land adjacent to private grazing land. The buffer strip does not have ferrets, but it is good ferret habitat, experts say, and if they were to spread there it could help support the recovery.

San Diego Zoo Holds Biomimicry Event
July 15, 2008  www.ewire.com

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Zoo and the City of San Diego sponsored an industry event at the Zoo today featuring the Biomimicry Guild. The Guild introduced the discipline of biomimicry to an audience of biotech firms, educators, research scientists, engineers and others interested individuals. Biomimicry is the science of taking inspiration from nature, its systems, processes and elements to solve design problems in a sustainable matter. Biomimicry is a core component of the advancement and expansion of the cleantech industry. Dayna Baumeister, co-founder of the Boimimicry Guild, provided an overview of  present-day applications of biomimicry including super-efficient wind turbines modeled on the fins of humpback whales, wetsuits worn by Olympic athletes that imitate the texture of sharkskin, and antibiotics which do not result in resistant bacteria, based on the defenses used by red seaweed. "Throughout its more than 90-year history, the San Diego Zoo has taken a leadership role in the conservation of endangered species and their habitats," said Paula Brock, chief financial officer for the San Diego Zoo.

Humans & Marsupials Share Same Genetic Imprinting

July 15, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

A recent paper in Nature Genetics shows that humans share a common genetic imprinting mechanism with marsupials despite the differences in reproductive strategies. Marilyn Renfree who lead the University of Melbourne research team says marsupials give birth to very small young that develop mainly within the pouch while humans have more developed young at birth that undergo a large period of growth in the uterus.  Genomic imprinting is a mechanism that regulates gene expression in the developing fetus and plays a major role in regulating its growth.  “We all carry two copies of every gene in our DNA, one inherited from our mother and one from our father. So for each gene we have a ‘back-up’. Normally, both copies of the gene are used for development, but in some special cases the gene from either our mother or father is switched off, so we only have one active copy. This phenomenon is known as genomic imprinting,” explained Dr Andrew Pask also from the Department of Zoology. Pask explains that a key gene regulating fetal growth is the Insulin-like-growth-factor-2 or IGF2 which is an imprinted gene. “We inherit a single working copy of this gene from our fathers, while the mothers copy is switched off. The switch for this gene is controlled by another gene known as H19. The H19 gene is unusual gene that makes a microRNA and not a protein.”  “MicroRNA genes have been sought in marsupials for years, and now for the first time one has been discovered,” Dr Pask said. Pask explains that the microRNA structure is virtually identical to that of mice and humans, but there was no evidence of this gene or a similar microRNA in the more distantly related platypus.

Legal Rights for Great Apes

July 15, 2008  www.usatoday.com   By Jeffrey Stinson

LONDON — In Europe, great apes are inching toward obtaining the same legal rights as humans. A Spanish parliamentary committee adopted resolutions last month that would give great apes, such as chimpanzees and gorillas, the right to life, freedom from arbitrary captivity and protection from torture. Spain's legislation would outlaw using great apes in experiments, circuses, TV commercials or films. Apes could be kept in zoos, but conditions would be improved.  If finally approved, Spain would be the first nation to extend human rights to mans closest genetic relatives.  Another court case from Austria could go further if it declares a chimp could have a legal guardian and funds for upkeep. Animal rights activists hail the major steps that would prevent apes from being captured, used for experiments or put in circuses. Michele Stumpe of Atlanta, president of the Great Ape Project International, which has campaigned 15 years for apes' rights.  Some legal analysts warn of a danger in giving apes equal legal status because an animal's rights could conflict or supersede a human's rights in future court rulings. "I'd call it a slippery slope-plus," says Richard Cupp, associate dean for research at California's Pepperdine University School of Law, who has written extensively on animal vs. human rights.

Detroit Zoo Publicizes Tax Effort

July 15, 2008  www.freep.com   BY TOM WALSH

The Doner advertising agency has done pro bono work for the Detroit Zoo for 26 years and is now rolling out an advertising blitz to promote the Aug. 5 ballot proposal on future funding for the zoo. Television ads will begin appearing July 23.  "It's pivotal," said zoo director, Ron Kagan, of the campaign to persuade voters to pass a property tax increase of 0.1 mill, or about $10 a year on a house worth $200,000, which would provide about $12 million, or nearly half of the zoo's annual funding. The zoo's ownership was transferred in 2006 from the City of Detroit to the Detroit Zoological Society, but the zoo still needs a long-term revenue source to plug the budget hole left by the end of Detroit's annual subsidy. In one TV a little girl at dusk is shown saying "good night" to a giraffe, a tiger and several other animals before the ad concludes with the message, "Let's not say good night to our zoo forever."  In another, the legs of a small girl on tiptoes are visible beneath the curtain of a voting booth, while the ad points out that "unfortunately, those who love the zoo the most" -- children -- don't get to vote. A similar photo of a girl at a voting station with the tagline, "Kids would keep the zoo if they could," is being used for billboards, magazine ads and direct mail pieces.

New Zoo Days TV Program Features Chester Zoo

July 15, 2008  www.eveningleader.co.uk     By Michael Youds

Margaret was not only the first female Rothschild Giraffe born at the zoo, but she is also thought to be the smallest giraffe ever born.  A first calf for six-year-old Faye, Margaret tipped the scales at just 34 kilos and was a mere 5ft at birth.  She had difficulty suckling from Faye and eventually had to be removed from the rest of the herd as a dedicated team of keepers battled to save her life. Tim Rowlands, the zoo's assistant curator of higher vertebrates, said her difficulties in feeding meant at one point we were literally having to feed her by tube just to keep her alive. She eventually formed a bond with 2 keepers and began to bottle feed from them.  Her plight will be  highlighted on the new Zoo Days series, which starts on Five on August 11 – giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at Chester Zoo.

Pretoria Zoo Plans Changes

July 15, 2008  www.news24.com

PRETORIA, South Africa - The 85 hectare National Zoological Gardens in the heart of Pretoria, houses 9 087 animals including mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, invertebrates and amphibians.  During the past 18 months of research and development initiatives have been benchmarked against global best practices and the Zoo plans to create a “spinal route” or main viewing thoroughfare for visitors in time for their 110th birthday in 2009.  "The spinal route will offer visitors with limited time to spend at the Zoo the opportunity to view the majority of the more popular species in a more structured, time-saving way," according to Allenby, the Zoo’s Marketing manager.  "During the development of the spinal route and the upgrading of some enclosures, visitors may notice some vacant areas every now and then as some animals are moved or provided alternative accommodation."  The Zoo also has plans for several awareness campaigns scheduled for later in the year, including a focus on predatory cats, revisiting its popular Evolution of Man display and several fun holiday programs.  The National Zoological Gardens of South Africa in Pretoria, Tshwane attracts in excess of 600 000 visitors annually and ranks among the top 10 zoos in the world.  The total length of the walkways in the Zoo is approximately 6km.

CITES Allows China to Import Ivory

July 15, 2008  www.msnbc.msn.com

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) has approved China's request to buy more than 100 tons of elephant ivory from four African countries.  The four African countries permitted to make the one-off sales of registered ivory stocks to China are Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe.  The ivory approved for sale to China have been collected through culling of elephants from over populated areas, also natural deaths and seizures.  However, conservation organizations say that the sale of ivory to China will stimulate demand and create loopholes for illegal ivory to be laundered into the legal market. To get the Cites approval, China had to convince the standing committee members that it had taken adequate measures to control the illegal domestic trade of ivory. Ghana and Kenya joined Australia in trying to block the decision. Those in favor included Britain, the European Union and Japan.

Beach-stone Curlew Lays Egg at Territory Wildlife Park

July 15, 2008  www.odt.co.nz 

DARWIN, Australia -- In a world first, a Beach-stone Curlew (Esacus neglectus) -- which is endangered on the east coast of Australia -- has laid an egg in captivity.  Territory Wildlife Park (TWP) assistant curator Damien Stanioch said three chicks were collected for a breeding program in 2006.  The two males and one female were the first of their kind to be bred outside of the wild and Mr Stanioch said the fussy nesters had presented a real risk.  Mr Stanioch said curlews were extremely particular about their habitat and only lived and nested in areas with the right balance of mangroves, sand and rocks.  In the wild they normally produce only one egg, which they lay directly onto the sand in a small depression just above the high tide mark.  This allows them to ensure an incubation period of 30 days, Mr Stanioch said.  "We tried to recreate a similar environment and the egg was laid right on the highest point of the mound, making the mother clearly visible to visitors," he said.  While endangered in other parts of Australia, curlews are relatively common in the Northern Territory because of its vast and undeveloped beaches. Mr Stanioch said the breeding program would allow scientists to learn more about the curlew's breeding biology as well as their diet analysis and "quirky characteristics".  Researchers already have established that curlews are capable of laying at 21 months of age and, in the wild, tend to do so from October to January. Hopefully, in 30 days time, a healthy chick emerges.

Expected Surge for New Zealand Kakapo Population

July 16, 2008  www.odt.co.nz   By Hamish McNeilly

OTAGO, New Zealand – Female kakapos breed when Rimu trees mast (fruit) heavily. A rimu mast can occur every three to five years in a rimu-dominant forest, and experts believe this will be one of those years. There are currently only 91 of the critically endangered flightless parrots, and more than 50 chicks are predicted to be hatched this season, according to national kakapo recovery team leader Emma Neill.  The rimus on Codfish Island, are expected to fruit this summer, and the last time this happened, in 2002, 24 chicks hatched, she said.  Last March and April, seven chicks hatched on Codfish Island, but one died of natural complications. When the chicks hatch next March, the population of kakapo is expected to pass the 100 mark for the first time since the 1970s, she said. (A 50% increase in the kakapo population). With birds as young as 6 showing they are capable of breeding, the number of females expected to breed this season is 38.  The national kakapo team will relocate to the Southland Conservancy in the coming months. Up to four staff work on Codfish Island year-round, with a team of volunteers likely to join them during breeding season, Ms Neill said.

Gene Research May Help Frogs

July 16, 2008  www.nzherald.co.nz

Frog populations throughout the world are being depleted by habitat loss and disease.  Of Australasia's 220 frog species, 47 are considered endangered. Worldwide, scientists believe about 165 of known frog species may already be extinct.  Bruce Waldman, a biologist at Lincoln University, said a new paper published today will outline research which has identified certain genes that could help amphibians develop resistance to harmful bacteria and disease. The paper, co-authored by Dr Waldman and was published in the journal PloS One, and examines how genes affect the ability of frogs to resist infection by bacteria.  Dr Waldman said breeding frogs with complementary disease-resistant genes in captivity may offer the best hope for saving species from extinction.  The research team studied the African clawed frog because its immune system had already been well characterized, but Dr Waldman said as most frogs and toads had similar immune systems, they believed their results would be generally applicable to all threatened and endangered amphibians.

Stingrays Die at Brookfield Zoo

July 16, 2008  www.chicagotribune.com  By Steve Schmadeke

CHICAGO (AP) —  Brookfield Zoo’s "Sharks at Stingray Bay" exhibit remains closed after 16 stingrays died when temperature controls malfunctioned on a 16,000-gallon saltwater tank.  The tank which held 33 stingrays, eight sharks and three horseshoe crabs, was set up by a 3-year-old San Diego company called Living Exhibits. Mike Yeakle, the company's president, said he flew to Chicago on Monday to inspect the equipment and believes a fluctuation in the power supply caused the tank's heater to kick on.  When employees found the dead rays early Monday, the water temperature was almost 90 degrees—10 degrees hotter than normal. Brookfield Zoo staff is investigating what caused the life-support system to malfunction, and Yeakle said the equipment was being "re-engineered" to prevent the tank from overheating again. It had a back-up generator to power a cooling unit, but the voltage never dropped low enough to kick it on, he said.  Yeakle said his company, which has a total of seven exhibits on display in North America, may ship out more stingrays when the Brookfield Zoo exhibit is cleared to reopen.

Dubai Zoo Protects Animals from Heat

July 16, 2008  www.khaleejtimes.com   By Joy Sengupta

DUBAI — With the UAE witnessing temperatures above 50 degrees for the past couple of days, Dubai Zoo has stepped up its efforts to protect the animals from the sweltering heat. More than 50,000 gallons of water was being sprayed each day in the zoo and also on the animals in a bid to keep them and the area cool. The Dubai Zoo houses nearly 800 animals.  "The water is being sprayed on the animals and on the concrete ground round the clock in order to keep the place and the animals cool. Also, strong air-conditioners have been installed in the cages of apes and reptiles. Moreover, there are enough shaded areas inside the many cages where the animals can take shelter. The cages for bears, wolves and lions have been provided with extra shaded areas as well," he said.  Senior zoo official, Al Najjar said that the zoo keepers egularly check the temperature of the water in the small ponds situated in the bear and lion enclosures. Huge ice slabs are being placed in these ponds everyday so that water stays cool for the animals. The ice slabs are also being put at animal resting areas inside these cages," the official added. 14 high-power blower fans installed all across the zoo, in front of the cages. The fans are switched on mainly after the sprinkling of water in the zoo area which cools the whole place considerably.

S.F. Considers Turning Zoo Into Animal Sanctuary

July 16, 2008  www.nbc11.com 

SAN FRANCISCO – On July 17, a committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors will consider on a proposal to transform the San Francisco Zoo into an animal rescue facility. The board's three-member Rules Committee is scheduled to vote on a proposed ordinance introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly that would make the zoo's primary mission to house and care for both exotic wildlife and domestic animals rescued from inhumane care.  Animal rights groups called for the change earlier this year following December's fatal mauling of a zoo visitor by an escaped tiger and the deaths of zoo elephants in earlier years. They have also claimed animals at the zoo are kept in inhumane, "third-world" conditions.  Zoo officials have repeatedly denied those claims.
The law would allow the zoo to continue breeding programs for certain exotic species such as gorillas, African lions, Sumatran tigers and giraffes.  It would also create a Zoo Animal Welfare Oversight Committee, tasked with holding public meetings on animal welfare at the zoo and advising the Board of Supervisors. If approved, the proposal will go to the full board for consideration.

Apes Leave Hollywood for Iowa’s Great Ape Trust

July 16, 2008  uk.reuters.com  By Andrew Stern, Reuters

DES MOINES, Iowa - Hollywood's sole supplier of orangutans has decided to quit renting them out and will send six of his trained animals to the Great Ape Trust in Iowa.  Steve Martin's Working Wildlife of Los Angeles has said it will stop providing the fast-disappearing creatures to the entertainment industry. "Using nonhuman primates in entertainment venues like films, television and advertisements certainly doesn't enhance public attitudes toward their conservation, and doesn't get across the message about their precarious situation in the wild," said Lori Perkins of Atlanta's zoo, who heads the Orangutan Species Survival Plan. Rocky, 3, and his 19-year-old mother, Katy, arrived at the Des Moines research center over the weekend. Four more will follow in the coming months, joining three resident orangutans along with a cast of bonobos, chimpanzees and gorillas.  Wildlife experts say the estimated 62,000 orangutans remaining in the wild could be wiped out within decades as loggers and palm oil farmers destroy their Asian forest habitats.

California Condor Preservation

July 16, 2008  www.lacitybeat.com   By Carman Tse

The California condor is one of the most endangered species in the United States. Currently, there are fewer than 340 individuals that make up the population, with less than half of that number in the wild. In 1987, that number was down to 22, with the last known individual in the wild caught on Easter Sunday of that year. Since then, through an intensive captive breeding program led by the San Diego Wild Animal Park and the Los Angeles Zoo, their numbers have climbed, and individuals were reintroduced to the wild beginning in 1991.  On July 1, the  Ridley-Tree Condor Preservation Act (AB 821), went into effect.  It is a ban on the use of lead ammunition while hunting in designated condor habitat.  In the weeks leading up to the ban, seven birds were brought in for treatment of elevated lead levels, including one condor that eventually died. “It’s alarming to see such a concentration of cases within a month time frame,” says Curtis Eng, chief veterinarian of the Los Angeles Zoo, who oversaw treatment of the birds. Lead poisoning has been known to afflict the birds at least since the 1980s, and typically one or two are treated every year for it.  According to Jesse Grantham, a senior official with the USFWS, the high number of cases within such a short period of time was most likely the result of a single source and within the foraging habitat of the Southern California population, hunting is only permitted at privately owned Tejon Ranch, which controls 270,000 acres spanning the Tehachapi Mountains. In response to the lead poisoning incidents, Tejon temporarily suspended the use of firearms on their property for a month.

The California condor has had an estimated $40 million invested in it over the past 20 years, with over half of that estimated to be federal funding. A week stay for chelation treatment for lead poisoning can cost up to $1,200. With such a large sum gambled on the future of one species,  some academics have argued for letting the species die off, claiming they are merely a relic of the past on its way out. But Grantham argues that poaching, lead poisoning, eating carcasses tainted by cyanide, and habitat loss, are human responsibilities and humans should clean up the mess they created.”

Special Report on Spotted Hyena

July 16, 2008  demo1.news.msu.edu

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Jennifer Smith, a doctoral student in Zoology at Michigan State University, recently published a paper in the journal Animal Behaviour showing that while spotted hyenas know the value of living together in large, cooperative societies, they also realize that venturing on their own to hunt for food is often the key to their survival.  Smith, who studied spotted hyenas at the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, said “This cost is feeding competition within their own group.”  Spotted hyena social groups have a well-established hierarchy. When a kill is made, the highest ranking members get to eat. Smith and colleagues report that spotted hyenas do join forces to protect themselves from danger. They aggregate to defend their food from their natural enemy – the lion, and cooperate during turf battles with neighboring hyenas. It is also easier to catch prey when they do so in teams.  “Although spotted hyenas are 20 percent more likely to capture prey with one or more members of their social group, former allies quickly turn into competitors once the kill is made, so the individual, if low in the hierarchy, suffers a cost for having other group members at the kill.” More than a million years ago spotted hyenas were solitary scavengers. “My research,” said Smith,  shows because there is this cost of competition, that spotted hyenas retained this ability to remove themselves from the larger social group to hunt.”   Scientifically speaking, this is known as fission-fusion dynamics – members of the same society repeatedly splitting up from the group (fission) and then reuniting (fusion). A special report is at : http://special.news.msu.edu/hyena/index.php?home

Wild Animal Park a Gem for San Diegans

July 16, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com  

Visionaries at the San Diego Zoo opened the 1,800-acre reserve in 1972, creating a natural setting in which animals live and can be viewed in herds and flocks rather than as individuals or pairs on display.  It draws about 1.4 million visitors annually.  The park opened its $40 million Journey into Africa tour a little more than a year ago, with trams taking visitors closer to the animals than ever before. Now, the nonprofit Zoological Society of San Diego is about  halfway toward its $4.3 million goal to build Phase II of Journey into Africa, surrounding visitors with even more animals and adding a lake and marshland exhibits.  Which brings us to our opposition to the effort by City Heights attorney John Stump to get San Diego voters to rescind the 1934 measure that directs a small portion of property tax revenue to the zoo in Balboa Park. That amounts to about 4 percent of the zoological society's revenue and, at least indirectly, helps make possible conservation efforts, breeding programs and more. The City Council should ignore Stump's efforts to get the matter on the ballot, and voters should ignore a petition drive if he launches one.  In the meantime, with high gasoline prices and airline ticket surcharges, much has been written about how many Americans may be taking “staycations” near home this summer. With its Roar and Snore overnight visitor camping, photo caravans, behind-the-scene tours and other options, the Wild Animal Park would fit the bill.

SD County West Nile Update

July 16, 2008 www.signonsandiego.com

Twenty-four more dead birds found in San Diego County have tested positive for West Nile virus, county vector control officials said yesterday.  The birds – 20 American crows, two hawks, a barn owl and one California least tern – were found in Oceanside, Mira Mesa,  Scripps Ranch and Ramona.  So far this year in the county, a total of 96 birds have testified positive for the mosquito-borne disease. Last week, county health officials said that a horse died after contracting West Nile virus. The county has a Web site about the virus and how to fight it at SDFightTheBite.com. Information also can be obtained by calling (888) 551-INFO (4636).

Hoolock Gibbon Born at Arunachal Biological Park

July 16, 2008  www.outlookindia.com

ITANAGAR, India --: Arunachal Pradesh, known as one of the richest bio-diversity hotspots in the world, has earned a distinction by becoming the first state to breed Hoolock Gibbon, an endangered species, in captivity.  The Deputy Chief Wildlife Warden, Chukhu Loma, in charge of the Biological Park here, said the baby Hoolock Gibbon was born on July 11 to Rukmini and her husband Lagdeer.  The two gibbons were among eight Hoolock Gibbons rescued from Delo forest in Lower Dibang Valley district and rehabilitated in the park located close to Lorputung forest. The birth is the result of a project - National Hoolock Gibbon Conservation and Breeding Programme - being implemented in the park since March, 2007. The Hullock Gibbon numbers have increased from eight to 15 since 2007.  5 breeding pairs were kept in an enclosure outside public view to minimize human contact, but their offspring will be released back to the wild.  The park is also known for its captive breeding of at least half a dozen tiger cubs.  He disclosed that another project - conservation and breeding programme of three endemic high altitude pheasants - Mishi Monal, Tibetan Ear Pheasant and Temminck Tragopan - is likely to be taken up by the department, he disclosed.  There are 17 Pheasant species found in India of which 11 including the above three are found only in this state, Loma said.

Bristol Zoo Gardens Plans U.K.’s First Wildlife Park

July 17, 2008  www.thisisbristol.co.uk

Bristol Zoo Gardens is planning a £70m world wildlife reserve to be sited in the city's outskirts. The proposed 55 hectare National Wildlife Conservation Park (NWCP), will be the first conservation-led park in the UK. The park has been designed to link ecosystems and conservation programs from across the world.  Bristol Zoo Gardens director Dr Jo Gipps said once plans were submitted it had a major fundraising task ahead. He said : "The park’s goal is to make the children of today, the conservationists of tomorrow." The NWCP will be divided into exhibit areas of Congo Tropical Forest, Sumatra Rainforest, British Ancient Woodland and Indian Ocean Coral Reef and will be home to tigers, black tip sharks, bonobos, chimpanzees and brown bears. The British Ancient Woodland exhibit will link with UK conservation programs led by Bristol Zoo Gardens.  Visitors will travel back in time to see brown bears, lynx, wolves and other wildlife found in Britain hundreds of years ago, which have since been lost due to human activity. Visitors will be able to go on an off road tour in the Tanzania Savannah exhibit – home to giraffe, rhino, zebra, cheetah, warthog and wild dogs. The land has been owned by Bristol Zoo Gardens since 1965.  The first phase of the Park would be scheduled to open in 2012.

National Zoo Hatches 40th Kori Bustard

July 17, 2008   www.wjla.com

The Smithsonian National Zoo recently celebrated the birth of two kori bustard chicks. The recent hatchings helped the zoo reach a milestone as the most productive kori bustard breeding program of any zoo in the western hemisphere. The chicks are being hand-reared by staff. A feather duster acts as a mother to the chicks by providing a sense of protection. Kori bustard are the world's heaviest flying bird and the chicks could grow to be as large as 35 pounds. The National Zoo is one of only two zoos in the U.S. that consistently breeds kori bustards, which are in decline throughout their range on the savannas of eastern and southern Africa. [Mike Mace reports that San Diego is one of 4 zoos that have bred Koris]

CITES Ruling on Import and Export of Sturgeon Caviar

July 17, 2008   www.epa.gov
The USFWS proposes to reduce the quantity of caviar that may be imported or exported under the CITES personal effects exemption and amend the requirements for import of caviar from shared stocks subject to quotas. These changes would bring U.S. regulations in line with revisions adopted by consensus at the most recent meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CITES (June 2007.  We will accept comments received on or before August 18, 2008. Please use the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov  or mail to : Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AV70; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. We will not accept e-mail or faxes. For further information contact:  Robert R. Gabel, Chief, Division of Management Authority; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 212; Arlington, VA 22203 (telephone, (703) 358-2093; fax, (703) 358-2280).

Survey of Borneo’s Orchids

July 17, 2008  www.sciencedaily.com

KALAMANTAN, Indonesia -- Borneo has 2500-3,000 orchid species. According to a Global Forest Watch 2002 report, Indonesia is experiencing one of the most dramatic losses of forestland in the world. Reports showed that at the current rate of loss, Borneo's forests could vanish completely by 2010.  Compelled by concern for the loss of Borneo's native orchids, Chairani Siregar of the College of Agriculture at the University of Tanjungpura (Indonesia) undertook a 3-year study to locate and record endangered native orchid species in West Borneo. The study was done in 10 counties and one municipal city in West Borneo. Orchids found were identified and recorded by species. A total of 197 species of orchids were identified.  Siregar is committed to cultivating all vulnerable and endangered species of orchids before they become extinct, adding that "local government intervention and participation in conservation, cultivation and marketing of orchids are necessary" for the popular flowers' survival.

How Online Journal Availability Affects Research

July 17, 2008  www.nsf.gov

An article published today in the journal Science, claims that scholars are actually citing fewer papers in their publications, and the papers they do cite tend to be recent publications. Author James Evans, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Chicago, recently obtained an NSF grant to study how the growth of the Internet has shaped science.  He analyzed a database of over 34 million articles and compared their online availability from 1998 - 2005 to the number of times they were cited from1945 - 2005. The results showed that as more journal issues came online, fewer articles were cited, and the ones that were cited tended to be more recent publications. Scholars also seemed to concentrate their citations more on specific journals and articles. "More is available," Evans said, "but less is sampled, and what is sampled is more recent and located in the most prominent journals."  Evans's research also found that this trend was not evenly distributed across academic disciplines. Scientists and scholars in the life sciences showed the greatest propensity for referencing fewer articles, but the trend is less noticeable in business and legal scholarship. Social scientists and scholars in the humanities are more likely to cite newer works than other disciplines.

Vaccine for Koala Chlamydia

July 17, 2008  www.eurekalert.org 

Chlamydia in koalas is a significant cause of infertility, urinary tract infections, and inflammation in the lining of the eye, often leading to blindness.  The number of koalas with chlamydia also seems to be increasing,  Fortunately, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology's Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation have had good results with a trial vaccine for chlamydia.  Professors Peter Timms and Ken Beagley vaccinated koalas at Brisbane's Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, and found "a good T-cell immune response, which is essential if the vaccine is to be effective." The initial trial will measure only the animals' immune response and will not involve any live chlamydial infections.” Said Timms "If all goes well with this trial our future studies will evaluate the vaccine on sick and injured koalas brought in for care, relocated animals, and koalas in other sanctuaries. "As many as 25-50 per cent of koalas coming into care in both Queensland and NSW are showing clinical signs of the disease and it seems to be getting worse."

Buffalo Zoo’s Elephants Have New Home

July 17, 2008  www.buffalonews.com  By Mark Sommer

The Buffalo Zoo’s 1912 Elephant House has been completely renovated, and after spending 3 months at the Columbus Zoo, in Ohio, elephants Buki, Surapa and Jothi are back.   Donna M. Fernandes, Buffalo Zoo president and CEO, said "The elephants are favorites here, and we appreciate the support of so many people who helped us raise the necessary funds to renovate the Elephant House."  The repairs were mandated by the AZA after a November 2006 visit found inadequate indoor space. The elephants' holding area is being increased from 1,050 square feet to 1,800 square feet.  Upgrades have also been made in heating, ventilation, electrical, plumbing and lighting systems.  Cost of the project was about $1 million, with financial supporters including the Margaret L. Wendt Foundation.  The South African Rain Forest -- the focal point of the zoo's $70 million renovation -- is opening later this summer. The elephants were transported in a special trailer built for elephant transport, and were accompanied by two keepers during their stay in Columbus.

Evolution of Vocal Communication

July 17, 2008  www.science.org

The neural circuitry that led to the human voice, birdsongs, frog thrums and mating calls of all manner of vertebrates – was likely laid down hundreds of millions of years ago with the hums and grunts of the midshipman fish.  By mapping the developing brain cells in newly hatched midshipman fish larvae and comparing them to other species, Andrew H. Bass, Cornell professor of neurobiology and behavior, and colleagues Edwin Gilland of Howard University and Robert Baker of New York University found that the neural network behind sound production in vertebrates can be traced back through evolutionary time to an era long before the first animals ventured onto dry land.  The research is published in the July 18 issue of the journal Science, and puts human speech – and social communications of all vertebrates – in evolutionary context.  The research also provides a framework for neuroscientists and evolutionary biologists studying social behavior in a variety of species  – and sends a message to scientists and non-scientists "about the importance of this group of animals to understanding behavior; to understanding the nervous system; and to understanding just how important social communication is.

Helping Species Cope with Climate Change

July 17, 2008  www.science.org

Many species must move to new areas to survive climate change. Scientists from Australia, the United States and UK have joined forces to decide how and when people might intervene to move species to more favorable locations. An article -- "Moving with the times: assisted colonization and rapid climate change"-- published on Friday 18 July in Science outlines their suggestions.  If there is low to moderate risk of extinction from climate change, it may be sufficient to bolster conventional conservation measures, such as increasing the amount of habitat available or reducing persecution.  The main alternatives are to maintain species in captivity, or to find new places to move them to. Breeding species in captivity can only save a very small number, though seed banks, or frozen eggs and sperm could protect more. The scientists, led by Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland, say that such options are better than nothing, though they do not fulfill many of the reasons for protecting biodiversity in the first place. So, they conclude that translocation is a serious option. Professor Chris Thomas, from the Department of Biology at the University of York, said: "Moving species carries potential risks to other species, as well as benefits to the species being moved, so we have to be careful to weigh up the pros and cons on a case by case basis. But not to act may represent a decision to allow a species to dwindle to extinction." 

Calif Condors' Instincts Takes Over in Fire

July 17, 2008  ap.google.com  

BIG SUR, Calif. — The California condor got its biggest survival test last month after years of pampering by biologists: Flames from the 188-square-mile fire in the Los Padres National Forest destroyed the Ventana Wildlife Society's aviary and release pen and thousands of dollars worth of equipment. It also displaced the 43 free-flying birds the Society monitors and forced a hasty rescue of seven 1-year-old chicks and their adult mentor by the U.S. Coast Guard.  Forced away by flames, their scientist handlers could only hope the birds' animal instincts would kick in.  And they did.  The birds found fresh air, and food: a beached whale and decaying California sea lion at the edge of Big Sur's cliffs. After the blaze swept through the area, many even returned home.  For 17 days, biologists were cut off from the sanctuary, monitoring the wild birds by electronic transmitters.  Biologists have tentatively accounted for all but two birds: a chick that had been in a nest high in a redwood tree and another older condor that was released into the wild two years ago.  Last week, Kelly Sorenson, executive director of the Ventana Wildlife Society, which runs the sanctuary and senior biologist Joe Burnett returned to the burned-out sanctuary and hiked to the edge of the feeding site. At the top of a charred Ponderosa pine the alpha male of the group surveyed his blackened canyon. "They survived on their own without us," Sorenson said. "It shows us they can do it."

Meeting Update on S.F. Zoo’s Future

July 18, 2008  www.sfgate.com

SAN FRANCISCO - -- A four-hour City Hall hearing on a proposal to convert the S.F. Zoo to a rescue facility, as proposed by Supervisor Chris Daly but crafted by animal rights advocates, most notably In Defense of Animals, was packed with animal rights advocates, city leaders and zoo officials.  The zoo, which needs millions of dollars of upgrades to its animal exhibits, is owned by the city but has been operated for the past 15 years by the nonprofit Zoological Society. Society officials said the zoo already acts as a rescue facility, noting that 100 of the facility's more than 700 animals were rescued from various situations. But they also spoke against the legislation, which, as currently written, would make it city policy that any future animals acquired by the zoo be rescue animals. The measure would allow the zoo to continue breeding some endangered animals.  Zoo officials said that the measure is too narrowly focused and could cause the zoo to lose accreditation or preclude it from participating in future breeding programs. They also expressed concern that it could hurt fundraising efforts and kill their education programs. The measure is likely to be amended after all the parties meet during the next two weeks and will be revisited at the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee on Aug. 7.

Brookfield Zoo Practices Integrated Animal Welfare

July 18, 2008  www.avma.org   B R. Scott Nolan

The Chicago Zoological Society has established a program of study at the Brookfield Zoo to evaluate the well-being of captive animals. The Center for the Science of Animal Well-Being is taking an interdisciplinary approach to determine whether the efforts made to provide captive species and individual animals with a quality life are working.  "It really is a complex question," acknowledged Dan Wharton, PhD, senior vice president for animal programs for CZS. While great strides have been taken in the areas of zoo animal housing and husbandry, the center is meant to take the research to the next level, Dr. Wharton said.  The center will use basic and applied research to aid scientists and researchers in understanding better and more accurately assessing the behavioral indicators associated with animal management practices.  The center's work will also be available to zoos and aquariums around the globe. "There is an escalating momentum worldwide to enhance our understanding of what constitutes animal well-being as well as increased recognition of our moral obligation to ensure the best possible well-being for animals in our care," explained Nadja Wielebnowski, PhD, head of Behavioral Endocrinology for CZS and vice president of conservation science. Last May, the center hosted more than 100 researchers and animal care experts at its first international symposium exploring the science of measuring zoo animal welfare.

Oregon Zoo’s Elephant Workout

July 18, 2008   www.oregonlive.com   By KATY MULDOON

Oregon zookeepers have become personal trainers to 7,660-pound pregnant Asian elephant, Rose-Tu.  Her cross training regimen includes a little jogging, strength training, water aerobics, sit-ups, leg-lifts, and stretching.  They are hoping for a trouble-free labor and delivery sometime between Aug. 21 and Oct. 10.  Rose, who will turn 14 on Aug. 31, was the last elephant born at the zoo. In the intervening years, those who care for elephants have learned that keeping females slim and toned during their approximately 22-month pregnancies improves outcomes. Mothers with poor muscle tone tend to have more difficult births.  So each day,  a couple of hours before the zoo gates opened to the public Thursday, they moved Rose and the other females, Chendra and Sung-Surin, nicknamed Shine, into their exhibit's front yard. Keepers placed two orange traffic cones at each end of the oblong, 8,500-square-foot yard. Keeper Bob Lee issues a "Tail up!" command and the girls, as keepers call them, lift their stiff, scruffy tails.  Rose twines her trunk around Chendra's tail and Shine grabs Rose's, and off they go, trotting at a swift pace around  the yard's perimeter.

Cheetah Outreach Founder Comes to Wellington Zoo

July 18, 2008  www.scoop.co.nz

WELLINGTON, New Zealand -- Annie Beckhelling, founder and director, of Cheetah Outreach in South Africa will be at Wellington Zoo talking to Zoo visitors about cheetah conservation, on Monday 21 July at 4pm.  Wellington Zoo CEO, Karen Fifield said “Our cheetahs, Charlie and Delta, were born at De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Centre and hand raised at Cheetah Outreach to be ambassadors for their species before coming to Wellington Zoo in 2005.”  Cheetah Outreach was founded as an education program. Cheetahs are endangered and there are believed to be around 12,000 remaining in the wild. One of the biggest threats to the cheetah is from farmers who kill them when the cats attack their flock. Cheetah Outreach supports a guard dog program for farms in South Africa, the dogs scare away the cheetahs, but do not kill them.

California Supreme Court Rules on Endangered Species

July 18, 2008  www.latimes.com  By Maura Dolan

SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Supreme Court gave new protection to the state's endangered species Thursday, ruling unanimously that developers, loggers and other commercial interests may be required to compensate for unforeseen wildlife losses. The battle between loggers and environmentalists centered on land that had been in timber production for 120 years and was home to the marbled murrelet, an endangered bird. After Pacific Lumber was acquired by Maxxam Inc. in 1996, Pacific began cutting down old-growth redwoods at a faster rate to offset Maxxam's debt. The deforestation led to litigation and huge protests.  The pact required Pacific Lumber to sell part of its land to the government for conservation and to obtain environmental permits.  Thursday's ruling ends a long-running battle over those permits but is not expected to unravel the pact. The decision established rules that the state must follow in approving large-scale logging plans or any major development that might endanger wildlife facing extinction.
The decision will help ensure that "landowners fully account for their impacts and the agencies today don't give away the store and bind the hands of future management requirements," said Paul Mason, deputy director of Sierra Club California.

Lionfish Decimating Tropical Fish and Coral Reefs

July 18, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

CORVALLIS, Ore. – It is believed that the first lionfish – a beautiful fish with dramatic coloring and large, spiny fins – were introduced into marine waters off Florida in the early 1990s from local aquariums or fish hobbyists. They have since spread across much of the Caribbean Sea and north along the United States coast as far as Rhode Island. "This is a new and voracious predator on these coral reefs and it's undergoing a population explosion," according to Mark Hixon and Mark Albins from Oregon State University. Lionfish are carnivores that can eat other fish up to two-thirds their own length, while they are protected from other predators by long, poisonous spines. Within a short period after the entry of lionfish into an area, the survival of other reef fishes is slashed by about 80 percent and the loss of herbivorous fish also sets the stage for seaweeds to potentially overwhelm the coral reefs and disrupt the delicate ecological balance in which they exist.  The study is the first to quantify the severity of the crisis posed by this invasive species, which is native to the tropical Pacific and Indian Ocean and has few natural enemies to help control it in the Atlantic Ocean. Findings of the new research will be published soon in Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Biodiversity Collections Index Introduced

July 18, 2008    www.biodiversitycollectionindex.org

Roger Hyam at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh has just launched a Biodiversity Collections Index website which aims to connect various silos of collections information in the field of natural history. BCI has harvested a number of large lists of collections from different disciplines, such as Index Herbariorum (IH), Insect and Spider Collections of the World (ISCW) and the BioCASE database. It then applies a Globally Unique Identifier (GUID) to all of the collections so they can be unambiguously cited by researchers, and resolved in a networked environment (for example utilizing a variety of web services offered). All of the data is available through a Attribution 3.0 Unported license. At the backend, to the best of my knowledge the data (currently) resides in a fairly basic version of the Natural Collections Description (NCD) standard, which an RLG Working Group first envisioned. Any biodiversity research community can register and contribute to the data held in the index. In addition to this, authoritative data that has been curated by established sources is displayed in a non-editable form alongside the community data. The BCI homepage is at: http://www.biodiversitycollectionsindex.org/static/index.html

Nominations Sought for San Diego Zoo’s Highest Honor

July 18, 2008  www.enn.com 

The San Diego Zoo is asking for the public to help with nominations for its highest honor, the Zoological Society of San Diego’s Conservation Medal. The winner of one of the three categories of the award, the Lifetime Achievement Award, has been decided. However, the Conservation in Action and the Conservation Advocacy and Philanthropy categories remain unfilled, and the public can assist by logging on to sandiegozoo.org, starting July 17, and nominating a worthy individual in either field.  In the field of Lifetime Achievement, the San Diego Zoo will honor J. Michael Fay an ecologist and explorer with the Wildlife Conservation Society and National Geographic Society. Perhaps best known for his MegaTransect and MegaFlyover of Africa, Fay’s efforts have resulted in the protection of large land areas of Western Africa and an increased knowledge of this sensitive area. Currently Fay is engaged in a yearlong, 700-mile hike through California's redwood forests as part of an effort called the Redwood Transect. Fay is working to collect data and document the state of the forest, helping to call attention to this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Fay will receive the award in a ceremony in Spring 2009.  The ceremony will also honor the winners in the two remaining categories, with input on the nominations from the public.

Female Dominance in Primates 

July 18, 2008  www.chinaview.cn  
BEIJING  --  In monkey social groups,  the most aggressive rule, and they have to battle for their place in this hierarchy every day. As male primates are usually larger than females, it comes as no surprise they rank above females in many primate species. However, there are times when are the dominant sex— lemurs in Madagascar, for example, or macaques. Scientists in the Netherlands have generated a virtual realm called DomWorld that simulates fights between primates. DomWorld unexpectedly predicted females would dominate in groups where males outnumbered them and analysis of previous data regarding female dominance among many different primate species verified this prediction. Surprisingly, females were not more numerous in species where they dominated. Instead, the secret to their success may be largely due to odds. Assume that a monkey wins a fight by chance. As a consequence, it grows more confident and thus goes on to win more fights.  Researcher Charlotte Hemelrijk, at the University of Groningen theorizes that the presence of more males in a group leads to more interactions between males and females than in a group with fewer males, "causing more chance winnings by females. These females will go on to win more frequently in later interactions and grow more dominant."   Another way females can rise to dominance when outnumbered by males is based in how "male aggression is more intense than that of females," Hemelrijk said. "In groups with more males, males are more often defeated by other males. Consequently, high-ranking females may be victorious over these losers."

Pygmy Elephants Collared in Borneo

July 18, 2008  thestar.com.my  

SANDAKAN: Three Borneo pygmy elephants in Kinabatangan were fitted with satellite collars last week, marking the start of an inaugural study on the social structure of the elephants.  Danau Girang Field Centre conservation biologist Nurzhafarina Othman said that studies on the genetic aspects of the elephant had been carried out but their social structure was virtually unknown. “The collaring of the elephants will ease our access to them. The bulk of the study will be done through fieldwork with the Elephant Conservation Unit (ECU). “We will carry out observations and collect DNA information via the faeces of individual elephants,” she said in a statement jointly issued recently by Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and Hutan, a French non-governmental organisation,   The ECU, was founded by Hutan in 2002 to address the human-elephant conflict. He plans to track the three elephants in the landmark study. “Unlike previous collaring by WWF Malaysia, where the elephants were followed via satellite, we picked individual elephants to study their social structure,” he said.  The group had planned to collar a large male bull which is usually solitary except when mating, a large female which is the matriarch and leads the group, and an adolescent male which remains close to the group.  However, instead of an adolescent male, the team collared an adult female previously collared by WWF Malaysia as data on her movements was already available.

Judge Returns Gray Wolves to Endangered List

July 19, 2008  www.nytimes.com   By FELICITY BARRINGER

MONTANA -- Gray wolves became fair game for hunters in three states as a result of a USFWS decision in March, but they were again put under the protections of the Endangered Species Act by a judge in Montana on Friday.  The action by the judge, Donald W. Molloy of Federal District Court, took the form of a preliminary injunction and could be reversed. But Judge Molloy’s language showed serious reservations about the government's decision to  cease protection for the wolves.  Environmental groups, including Defenders of Wildlife and the Sierra Club, which sued the Interior Department and the Fish and Wildlife Service on behalf of the wolves, persuaded Judge Molloy that there was a possibility of irreparable harm to the species if hunts had been allowed.  The states of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming; the National Rifle Association; and a variety of hunting and cattlemen’s associations intervened on the federal government’s  behalf.  He ruled the decision to approve Wyoming’s plans for maintaining just eight breeding pairs instead of the 15 the federal government once required was “problematic.” He added that the decision, which ran counter to the federal government’s earlier rejection of the Wyoming plan, “represents an agency change of course unsupported by adequate reasoning.”  The fate of wolves has been the subject of bitter litigation since they were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in 1995.

Baby Penguins Washing Up Dead in Brazil

July 19, 2008  www.nytimes.com   By A.P.

RIO DE JANEIRO  —  More than 400 penguins, most of them young, have been found dead on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro State in the past two months, according to Eduardo Pimenta, superintendent for the state coastal protection and environment agency in Cabo Frio, a resort city.  The birds come from Antarctica and Patagonia and while it is common to find some penguins, dead and alive, swept by strong ocean currents from the Strait of Magellan, Mr. Pimenta said there have been many more this year. Thiago Muniz, a veterinarian at the  Niteroi Zoo, said he believed overfishing has forced the penguins to swim farther from shore to find fish to eat, “and that leaves them more vulnerable to getting caught up in the strong ocean currents.”   Niteroi, the state’s biggest zoo, has received about 100 penguins for treatment this year, many drenched in petroleum, Mr. Muniz said. The Campos oil field, which supplies most of Brazil’s oil, lies offshore.  Mr. Pimenta, suggested pollution was to blame. “Aside from the oil in the Campos basin, the pollution is lowering the animals’ immunity, leaving them vulnerable to funguses and bacteria that attack their lungs,” he said, quoting biologists who work with him.  But Erli Costa, a biologist at Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University, suggested that weather patterns could be involved: “I don’t think the levels of pollution are high enough to affect the birds so quickly.”   He said that most of the penguins turning up are baby birds that have just left the nest and are unable to out-swim the strong ocean currents they encounter while searching for food.

Wolverine Needs Protection of ESA

July 19, 2008 www.nytimes.com

Perhaps only 500 wolverines remain in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. A coalition of conservation groups  argues that the wolverine deserves the protection of the Endangered Species Act and they plan to sue the Fish and Wildlife Service if it does not reverse its recent decision to leave the wolverine to its fate.  The agency’s decision was based mainly on the fact that there is a large number of wolverines in Canada. It claims that the wolverine populations of the two countries are contiguous and not distinctly separate, a claim conservationists dispute. If that logic — ignoring the health of an animal here if it is doing well elsewhere — had been allowed to prevail, many of the act’s notable successes, including preserving the grizzly bear and the American bald eagle, would never have happened.  The wolverine is facing two powerful foes: climate change, which reduces the snow cover the animals need to make their dens and reproduce; and  increased winter recreation in the Rocky Mountains, which tends to drive the wolverine out of its habitat.  There have always been difficult compromises in applying the law, but over the last seven years the Fish and Wildlife Service has become a hostile gatekeeper, denying refuge to species that desperately need the government’s full protection.

Zoo Keeper Week

July 21, 2008  www.prweb.com

AZA and its members are celebrating the important work of zoo keepers and aquarists this week. Zoo keepers and aquarists care for more than 700,000 animals in 218 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums," said AZA President and CEO Jim Maddy. Created by the American Association of Zoo Keepers (AAZK), National Zoo Keeper Week is celebrated each year beginning on the third Sunday in July. During the week, zoos nationwide honor animal care professionals and the work they do in animal care, conservation, and education. There are approximately 6,000 animal care professionals in the United States.

San Diego Zoological Society Ads Win Awards  

July 21, 2008  www.imperialvalleynews.com 

M&C Saatchi is the advertising agency for the San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park. Saatchi received several awards from the California  Travel and Tourism Commission on June 17 for excellence in creative, high-quality tourism advertising, marketing and publics relations programs.  The Wild animal Park won awards for Best of Show, Best Overall Marketing Campaign, Best Broadcast Advertisement as well as several other awards.

Male Chimpanzee Born at Knoxville Zoo

July 21, 2008  www.knoxnews.com   By Amy McRary

Knoxville Zoo chimpanzee Daisy gave birth to a baby boy on Friday night, the first chimp born at the park in two decades. Born at the apes' Chimp Ridge habitat, he has been named George, and both mother and baby are doing well. Two other females, Debbie and Julie are in the same indoor area and "are kind of protecting mom and baby - and protecting them from the keepers as well," according to zoo executive director, Jim Vlna.  Daisy, 32 came to the zoo in 2006 from the Little Rock (Ark.) Zoo; the baby's father, Jimbo, arrived that year from the Cleveland, Ohio, Zoo. Both Daisy and Jimbo came to Knoxville as part of the AZA’s Species Survival Plan. Daisy is an experienced, if sometimes awkward mother. This was her third pregnancy; her other children were born at other zoos.  The baby's birth brings the total of chimpanzees at Knoxville to nine.

Native Carnivores Flee Heavily Visited Parks

July 21, 2008  www.berkeley.edu   By Rachel Tompa

BERKELEY — A new study by conservation biologists from UC, Berkeley compared parks in the San Francisco Bay Area that allow only quiet recreation such as hiking or dog walking with nearby nature reserves that allow no public access. Evidence of some native carnivore populations - coyote and bobcat - was more than five times lower in parks that allow public access than in neighboring reserves without human presence. Since the carnivores in the study are often the top predators in their areas, these animals also shape the rest of their surrounding ecosystems. The flight of large animals could, in turn, influence populations of small animals and plants, the researchers said. To measure carnivore numbers, researcher Sarah Reed, studied the droppings of six native and non-native mammalian carnivores in 28 parks and preserves in northern California. The parks in her study allow public access, but don't allow motorized vehicles or hunting and fishing. Most visitors to these parks hike or walk their dogs. The preserves in the study have limited or no public access.  The differences in carnivore populations are even more surprising when you consider that these animals are most active at night, dawn and dusk, and that people visit parks during the day, Reed said.  The study will be published in the September 2008 issue of the journal Conservation Letters but is now available online

California is First State With Green Building Code

July 21, 2008  www.enn.com 

The California Building Standards Commission announced on Friday the unanimous adoption of a statewide “green” building code, the first in the nation.  The new standards will call for a 20% improvement in water use efficiency for both residential and commercial plumbing fixtures as well as target a 50% increase in conservation for water used in landscaping.  The new code will also require all new construction to reduce energy consumption by 15%.  The new standards will help California reduce greenhouse gas emissions 30% by 2020 as mandated two years ago. 

San Antonio Zoo Expansion Plans

July 21, 2008  triangle.bizjournals.com  by Tricia Lynn Silva

The San Antonio Zoo is set to begin construction on Phase II of its Africa Live! exhibit, which will feature new plant and animal life indigenous to Africa.  The project will take 16 months to complete and should open to the public in late 2009. New animals will include Colobus monkeys, an Okapi, Pygmy falcons and even termite mounds. Visitors will also be able to get a first-hand look at an African “kraal” — a livestock enclosure made from intertwined branches. Phase I opened earlier this year and taught visitors about the value of water and the intricacy of the way water, man, wildlife and food production interrelate. It includes an underwater exhibit of hippos and crocodiles. Phase II focuses on the different aspects of life on the African plain. CF Jordan LP is the firm responsible for the project. More information is at www.sazoo-aq.org .

Frogs Can Tune their Ears to Different Frequencies

July 21, 2008  www.eurekalert.org  By Diana Yates

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Researchers from UCLA , the University of Illinois, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (at Harvard Medical School) have discovered that a frog that lives near noisy springs in central China can tune its ears to different sound frequencies, much like the tuner on a radio can shift from one frequency to another. It is the only known example of an animal that can actively select what frequencies it hears, the researchers say.  Their findings appear in this week’s PNAS  in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The discovery was made when researchers examined the eardrums of an unusual frog, Odorrana tormota, which communicates by making birdlike calls in the audible and ultrasonic frequency ranges. Previous research by two of the authors showed that the frog produces and responds to ultrasonic calls. In the new study they sought to determine whether the frog’s eardrums actually vibrate in response to these ultra high frequency sounds.  Using a laser vibrometer to measure the eardrum’s vibration, the researchers found that the eardrum did respond to sounds in the sonic and ultrasonic ranges. But they also saw something they couldn’t explain: The eardrum’s sensitivity to ultrasound sometimes disappeared altogether.

Lincoln Park Flamingos Lay Eggs

July 22, 2008  www.suntimes.com  By Andrew Herrmann

CHICAGO - The Lincoln Park Zoo reports the first laying of flamingo eggs in at least 50 years.  Ten eggs have been laid by the zoo's Chilean flamingos and chicks should start to hatch in about two weeks. In 2003, the zoo changed from the American species to the hardier Chilean type. Adding vegetation also helped make the population of 48 birds seem denser, which flamingos prefer, said general curator, Megan Moss. Some zoos have added mirrors  to obtain the same family feeling.  Lincoln Park scientists also tinkered with the types of soil in the exhibit before coming up with just the right muddy mix, which made nest building easier. A new flamingo house also allowed the birds to stay outside longer in the colder months. The changes proved to be the right recipe.  Flamingo reproduction begins with flocks of males gathering and running with their bills pointed upward. Couples will call out to each other in unison. A female will initiate mating by walking away from the group, then stopping, lowering her head and, in an invitation to the male, spreading her wings. After copulation, the male stands on the female's back, then jumps off over her head.  Male and female birds share in the building of mud nests.

Oregon Zoo Plans Western Pond Turtle Release

July 22, 2008  www.oregonlive.com

PORTLAND, Ore. – The Oregon Zoo is releasing about 55 endangered Western pond turtles that have spent the past 11 months under lights to simulate perpetual summer. The lights trick the turtles into avoiding hibernation, so they experience about three years of growth in less than a year. The extra growth gives them a better chance against larger predators such as nonnative bullfrogs and largemouth bass.  The turtle conservation program is part of a collaborative effort by the Oregon Zoo and the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, along with state and federal agencies.

St Vincent Amazon Parrot Born at Houston Zoo

July 22, 2008  www.chron.com  By MAGGIE GALEHOUSE

On May 28, a tiny St. Vincent Amazon parrot pushed its way out of an egg the size of a large chestnut. The bird was 3 inches tall, with bulging eyes that would take another nine days to open and skin covered with a whitish down.  Christopher Holmes, a bird supervisor was the first person to see the rare parrot and is its primary caretaker. "The chick goes with me everywhere," says Holmes, "In the beginning, I was feeding it every two hours from 5 a.m. till midnight. I did that for 16 days."  For the first five weeks, the chick lived in a blue Coleman cooler, retrofitted with a heating element to keep it warm. Now, the bird, named Vincent, lives in a large, open-air brooder — basically, a clear plastic box with a special lid.  Soon, the zoo will send off one of Vincent's feathers for a DNA test to determine its gender. Vincent is the third St. Vincent Amazon parrot born at the Houston Zoo. In 1972, the zoo made history with the first captive hatch of the species in the world.  In the wild, this particular parrot is found in only one place: the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, 11 miles wide and 18 miles long, northeast of Venezuela and west of Barbados. There are about 800 in the wild and they are considered a threatened species.  Vincent's parents, Patty and Buccament, had their first offspring in 1999. Vincent is their second chick. The zoo's first St. Vincent Amazon, a female also named Vincent, was acquired in 1967.

John Dunlap Joins San Diego Zoo as New Director   

July 22, 2008   www.imperialvalleynews.com

SAN DIEGO, California - John Dunlap has experience in some of the world’s finest hotels. His strategy involves improving operational efficiencies, forming strategic financial plans and enhancing customer service. Today, he is leading the world-famous San Diego Zoo.  “I would like to continue the legacy of the San Diego Zoo as the finest zoo in the world,” said Dunlap, who took over as director on June 30. “I want to build upon its 90 years of history and make the Zoo even better.”  The Zoo’s previous director’ Richard Farrar’ retired after working at the San Diego Zoo for 40 years’ six years as director.  “The San Diego Zoo was looking for someone like John who brings an outsider’s perspective to help us streamline our operations and find new ways to improve the guest experience,” said Douglas Myers, chief executive officer for the Zoological Society of San Diego. “As a conservation, education and recreation organization, John’s vision will help us reach our goals while supporting conservation.”

Nature Conservancy’s Voluntary Carbon Offset Program

July 22, 2008   www.enn.com   by Andrew Burger

The Nature Conservancy is going public with its Voluntary Carbon Offset Program, offering individuals the opportunity to offset part of their own carbon footprints by contributing funds to set aside private lands that would othwerwise lay idle and degrade for conservation and forest regeneration. The first project on the Conservancy’s carbon offset slate is protecting and regenerating part of Louisiana’s Tensas River Basin, an ecologically key 47-acre tract of currently unproductive farmland that will soon form part of 3,600 acre conservation management system within the Lower Mississippi Valley. Protected by a Nature Conservancy easement, contributions to the voluntary carbon offset program will be used to plant trees, establish a conservation management system and cover the costs of setting aside land for the project.  The Tensas River Basin is home to the largest known population of Louisiana Black Bears, several valuable bird conservation areas and rare and endangered fish, mussel and aquatic ecosystems that are affected by neighboring farms. Reforesting the 47-acre tract will result in capturing some 14,300 tons of carbon dioxide during the project’s first 70 years, according to Nature Conservancy scientists.

New Population of Bamboo-Eating Lemur

July 22, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com  By Christine Dell'Amore

A new population of wrinkly-faced, bamboo-eating lemurs has been found in a swampy region of east-central Madagascar—more than 240 miles from the other only known group of the primates, The 2007 finding comes after years of rumors that the so-called greater bamboo lemur had been sighted in the Torotorofotsy wetlands. Now that it's confirmed, the newfound group has renewed experts' hopes that the species will survive.  "Finding the extremely rare Prolemur simus in a place where nobody expected it was probably more exciting than discovering a new lemur species," conservation geneticist Edward Louis of Henry Doorly Zoo said in a statement. Louis coordinated the joint research mission between the zoo and MITSINJO, a Malagasy nonprofit. The work was supported by the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation and Conservation International.  Scientists suspect that 30 to 40 of the lemurs—known for cracking open giant bamboo with their powerful jaws—live in the wetland, where bamboo is still their main staple.  The new group joins another population of about a hundred animals in the island's northern bamboo forests, which are under threat from illegal logging and habitat destruction, according to Conservation International.

Mirrors as Research Tools

July 22, 2008  www.nytimes.com 

Mirrors are powerful tools for exploring questions about perception and cognition in humans and other neuronally gifted species, and how the brain interprets and acts upon the mass of sensory information from the external world. Mirrors are being used to study how the brain decides what is self and what is other, how it judges distances and trajectories of objects, and how it reconstructs the three-dimensional quality of the outside world from what is essentially a two-dimensional snapshot taken by the retina’s flat sheet of receptor cells. The link between self-awareness and elaborate sociality may help explain why the few nonhuman species that have been found to recognize themselves in a mirror are those with sophisticated social lives. Chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, gorillas, dolphins and Asian elephants, have passed the famed mirror self-recognition test, which means they will, when given a mirror, scrutinize marks that had been applied to their faces or bodies. The animals also will check up on personal hygiene, inspecting their mouths, nostrils and genitals.  Yet not all members of a certifiably self-reflective species will pass the mirror test. Tellingly, said Diana Reiss, a professor of psychology at Hunter College who has studied mirror self-recognition in elephants and dolphins, “animals raised in isolation do not seem to show mirror self-recognition.”

Japan Feeds Animals Recycled Leftovers

July 23, 2008   www.enn.com  By Risa Maeda

SAKURA, Japan  - With animal feed and fertilizer prices at record highs, Japan's food recycling industry is seeing greater demand than ever before for pellets for pigs and poultry made from recycled leftovers.  Japan disposes of some 20 millions tonnes of food waste a year, five times as much as world food aid to the poor in 2007. The leftovers used to be dumped in land fills where they decomposed and produced the greenhouse gas methane.  But government legislation since 2001 has spurred a recycling industry that turns food scraps into animal feed and fertilizer, or ships leftovers off to facilities where the methane gas produced by rotting food is harnessed to power industrial plants.  The recycled feed is about 50 percent cheaper than regular feed and is used for pigs and chickens.  The feed is not used for cattle or sheep due to strict health regulations to prevent Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), more commonly known as Mad Cow's disease.  Food recyclers often use leftovers from convenience stores and restaurants where strict health laws mean unsold items must be thrown out at the end of the day. They don't take disposed food from households.  Japan imports about 75 percent of its feedstocks from abroad. It is the world's biggest corn importer to feed animals.

Baja California Parasite Study

July 23, 2008  www.physorg.com

Parasites serve both as regulators to prevent species from becoming numerically dominant and as indicators of the health of a particular ecosystem.  Researchers from UCSB, USGS, and Princeton University quantified the biomass of free-living and parasitic species in three estuaries (the Carpinteria Salt Marsh, the Bahia San Quintín and Estero de Punta Banda estuaries) in Baja California, and demonstrated that parasites have as much, or even more, biomass than other important groups of animals - like birds, fishes, and crabs  -  in some cases by a factor of 20. Their findings, which could have significant biomedical and ecological implications, appear in the July 24 issue of the science journal Nature.Geological Survey and shows for the first time that parasites might drive the flow of energy in ecosystems.  The article grew out of a five-year study supported by a $2.2 million grant from NSF and NIH through the agencies' joint Ecology of Infectious Diseases Program. The researchers quantified parasites and free-living organisms iincluding 199 species of free-living animals, 15 species of free-living vascular plants, and 138 species of parasites. "The total amount of energy flow in ecosystems due to infectious processes must be enormous - even greater than we'd expect given the large parasite biomass," said Armand Kuris of UCSB.  "I expect the amount of energy going into host tissue repair and replenishment is also huge. An implication of our study is that we should pay more attention to the energetics of disease."

African Blue Monkey Vocalization Study

July 23, 2008   sciencenow.sciencemag.org  By Lauren Cahoon

Even when not threatened themselves, African blue monkeys warn neighbors of nearby predators. Blue monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis stuhlmanni) have two predator-specific calls: the "hack," a low, gagging sound that warns about eagles, and the "pyow," which sounds a bit like a laser gun and warns about more general dangers on the ground, such as leopards. When a monkey sounds a particular alarm, its neighbors know to look out for that predator. Although listeners clearly understand the warnings, many scientists think that hack and pyow reflect only a basic, emotional response--a scream of fear rather than a "Hey you, look out!"  Klaus Zuberbühler a psychologist visited, a Ugandan nature reserve and played recordings of hacks and pyows from a loudspeaker near blue monkey troops, which are usually made up of a lead male and about 10 to 40 females and young. The recorded sounds prompted the lead male to follow up with his own alarm call, and he typically repeated the cry about 23 times. However, if a female or baby was close to the loudspeaker--the "predator"--the males gave an average of 42 cries. It didn't matter how close the male was to the danger; he sounded the red-alert alarm only when the females and young appeared to be at risk. His findings are reported in Biology Letters.  Michael Owren, a psychologist specializing in primate communication at Indiana University, doesn't think the study proves that the monkeys are purposefully warning others. Instead, he says, the females' proximity to the "predator" may just make the males extra emotional. 

Commercially Produced Bees Infect Wild Bees

July 23, 2008  www.physorg.com

In a study published in the July 23 issue of PLoS ONE, researchers from the University of Toronto present compelling evidence that commercially produced bumble bees used in greenhouses are infecting their wild cousins, and that this is likely contributing to reductions in the natural pollinating bee population. Researchers Otterstatter and Thomson investigated the occurrence of disease in wild bumble bees in southern Ontario, Canada, particularly in areas close to industrial greenhouse operations. In addition, the authors used a combination of laboratory experiments and mathematical modelling to simulate the spread, or 'spillover', of disease from commercial bees to wild populations, and to predict the extent and severity of such spread in the wild. They found that commercial bumble bees often carry a harmful and highly contagious pathogen, Crithidia bombi, and that these bees regularly escape from greenhouses and interact with wild bees at flowers. Near greenhouses, the rates of infection were startling: up to one half of wild bumble bees were infected with C. bombi, whereas no bees harboured this pathogen at sites away from greenhouses.  Furthermore, the frequency and severity ofinfections declined with increasing distance from greenhouses, suggesting that these agricultural operations are foci of disease for wild pollinators.

Bovine TB Threatens Lynx and Cattle Health

July 23, 2008  www.physorg.com

In an epidemiological survey of Spain's Doñana National Park, Christian Gortázar and colleagues studied the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis (bovine TB) infection among wildlife populations. The Doñana National Park is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve where commercial hunting and artificial wildlife feeding do not take place and traditional cattle husbandry still exists.  Deaths of the highly endangered Iberian lynx due to bovine TB have been recorded in this area, and annual cattle bovine TB reactor rates have increased despite compulsory testing and culling. In this study, Christian Gortázar and colleagues analysed the European wild boar, the red deer and the fallow deer for bovine TB. The infection was confirmed in 52% of wild boar, 27% of red deer and 18% of fallow deer. The prevalence recorded in this study is among the highest reported in wildlife. Remarkably, this high prevalence occurs in the absence of artificial wildlife feeding, which suggests that a feeding ban alone would have a limited effect on the prevalence of bovine TB among the wildlife. The results, published in the July 23 issue of PLoS ONE,  highlight the need to consider the potential effects on wildlife when controlling bovine TB in cattle and strongly suggest that bovine TB may have big effects on wild animal welfare and conservation.

Cincinnati Zoo Plans Wildcat Breeding Center

July 23, 2008   www.upi.com   By UPI

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- The Cincinnati Zoo will use $1.5 million in state funds to build the “Cat Canyon-Small Cat Reproduction Center” in Warren County, Ohio.  It will be the first dedicated breeding facility for endangered small cats at any North American zoo.  Twenty-eight of the world's 36 wild cat species are considered small. (weighing less than 50 pounds as adults). The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden's program will attempt to breed the most genetically valuable individuals, with cats from zoos all over North America being sent to the off-zoo facility, officials said. Resulting offspring will be sent to the zoo grounds for public viewing.

The Toll of Wind Farms on Wildlife

July 23, 2008  www.bioone.org

The amount of energy derived from wind farms has grown from 10 megawatts (MW) in 1981 to 1848 MW in 1998 to 18,308 MW in 2008, according to the Department of Energy. Some predict it will reach 100,000 MW by 2020. Today, wind generates less than 2 percent of all electricity in the United States, but that could reach 7 percent by 2020 and perhaps as much as 20 percent by midcentury.  Hints that wind farms might harm wildlife first surfaced at the Altamont Pass Wind Area, the oldest commercial wind farm in the United States, located about 50 miles east of San Francisco. Researchers found dead birds there in the late 1980s. Shawn Smallwood, an independent ecologist who studied birds at Altamont from 1999 to 2007, estimates that perhaps 10,000 birds are killed annually at the site. About 10 percent are golden eagles, red-tailed hawks, American kestrels, and burrowing owls, the latter a California species of special concern.Most bird deaths occur at three California wind farms, all built in the early 1980s: Altamont (where dozens of people were injured and one person killed at a Rolling Stones concert in 1969),  Tehachapi, and San Gorgonio (just west of Palm Springs). Although they appear to move slowly, turbine blades can hit speeds of 180 miles an hour at their tips, which means they're moving so fast that birds or bats can't see them. The turbine blades on newer wind farms, which are larger and reach higher into the sky, rotate slower and are farther off the ground, allowing raptors to fly under them. But larger blades have raised concerns for migrating passerines, says Michael Fry, the American Bird Conservancy's director of conservation advocacy.

DNA Barcoding in Developing Countries

July 23, 2008   www.scidev.net

BARCELONA -- Scientists leading international projects to use DNA barcoding for biodiversity mapping will introduce a series of guidelines in an attempt to overcome the reluctance of developing countries to take up the technology.  "At our upcoming international workshop to be held in November, we will propose a code of conduct to avoid DNA barcoding being carried out improperly," says David Schindel, executive secretary of Consortium for the Barcode of Life. The guidelines will include abiding by local laws in obtaining samples, trying to increase the capacity to carry out barcoding when carrying out studies in developing countries, and protecting rather than exploiting genetic resources.  Initiated by the US-based National Museum of Natural History, of which Schindel is a senior research fellow, the consortium plans to use DNA barcoding to identify tens of thousands of species in the next five years. The uptake of DNA barcoding to record the biodiversity of developing countries has been slow, due to concerns that sending samples abroad for barcoding may result in the piracy of genetic resources, Schindel told SciDev.Net.  But some countries have initiated DNA barcode projects, including Brazil, India, Kenya and South Africa.

Jeff Swanagan is New Columbus Zoo Director

July 24, 2008  www.snponline.com  By GARTH BISHOP

Jeff Swanagan is the new executive director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, Swanagan -- who worked for the zoo in the 1980s from 1980 to 1987 looking after animals, participating in summer camp programs, even parking cars. “It's so much more than a zoo now -- it's a zoo, an aquarium, a water park, Jungle Jack's Landing, Safari Golf Course, and there's (more) acres left to develop," said Swanagan. He is one of the key figures in the design of a new habitat for the creatures, which have not been seen at the zoo in years. Swanagan was head of the Georgia Aquarium for the past 6 years and replaces Jerry Borin.  Borin recently retired after having taken over executive director duties from Jack Hanna in the 1990s. Hanna was Swanagan's boss during his early years at the zoo, so when his old boss called him up to tell him Borin would be retiring and that he thought Swanagan would be a good fit for the job, Swanagan was intrigued.

Twin Emporer Tamarins Born at Prague Zoo

July 24, 2008  www.praguemonitor.com

PLZEN, West Bohemia -- The first twins of the emperor tamarin (Saguinus imperator) have been born in the Plzen zoo.  The zoo’s breeding pair of South American monkeys already had one offspring in the past two years. Two other Czech zoos, in Olomouc, north Moravia, and in Jihlava, south Moravia, breed emperor tamarins.  The European coordinator of the salvation programme will probably send the Plzen twins, a male and a female, to another zoo when they are older. Tamarins are found in a small area in south-east Peru, north-west Bolivia and west Brazil.  The adults feed on insects, fruit and nectar.

Minnesota Zoo Welcomes Fisher Kits

July 24 2008   www.startribune.com 

APPLE VALLEY, Minnesota -- Three fisher kits born at the Minnesota Zoo are now on exhibit. Only four nationally accredited zoos exhibit fishers and Minnesota is the only one to produce offspring in the past three years.  Born March 23, the three kits - two males and one female - are doing well and have started exploring their exhibit  They have almost disappeared because of trapping and logging practices, but now they are doing well in mixed wooded and heavily forested areas.  Fishers produce litters of one to five kits in March or April after a gestation period of 352 days.

Contractor Selected for Cleveland’s Elephant Crossing

July 24, 2008  www.wtam.com  By Darren Toms

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Marous Brothers Construction of Willoughby, Ohio has been selected to build Cleveland Metroparks’ African Elephant Crossing.  After 5 years of planning, construction on the $20,795,000 state-of-the-art elephant habitat and conservation center is expected to start in the fall.  Zoo Director Steve Taylor said the project will be one of the largest in Zoo history – second only to The RainForest, which opened in 1992.  Expected to open to the public in Spring 2011, African Elephant Crossing will quadruple the amount of indoor and outdoor space the Zoo dedicates to elephants. Sitting on 5 acres near the Zoo’s Main Entrance, the naturalistic habitat will resemble the African savanna and feature two sprawling yards, large ponds, expanded sleeping quarters, a heated outdoor range and an education village.  The new habitat will be able to house a multi-generational herd of up to 10 elephants, with at least one bull and eventually calves. The exhibit also will feature meerkats, naked mole rats, an African rock python and a spectacular collection of colorful birds.

California Joins Carbon-trade Partnership

July 24, 2008  www.sfgate.com 

California, six other Western states and four Canadian provinces launched plans on Wednesday for one of the world's largest carbon- trading systems, a sweeping effort to cut greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. The North American program, like a similar market-based system in Europe, focuses on heavy polluters such as electric utilities, oil refineries and large industrial and commercial facilities.  California officials said the proposal will be an integral part of the state's ambitious goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2020, as required by the landmark legislation AB32 that the Legislature approved in 2006.  The draft plan is a key component of the Western Climate Initiative, a partnership created in February 2007 among the governors of California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington to curb global warming.  Utah and Montana have also joined along with the Canadian provinces of Manitoba, Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario.  The regional goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 15 percent of 2005 levels by 2020.  The partnership will decide which businesses to regulate, how carbon credits will be awarded to firms and whether to use offsets programs allowing polluters to receive emissions credits by funding environmental projects such as reforestation.  The group will hold a series of workshops in coming weeks to gain public comment and the plan will be finalized by December.  Read the plan at :  www.westernclimateinitiative.org .

Zoo Keeper or Zookeeper

July 24, 2008  scienceblogs.com

Bloggers on Zooilogix offer this information on how to spell Zoo Keeper or Zookeeper. “I know you are all on the edge of your seats. Both are in the dictionary with the same definition, so it would appear they are both correct... But I need to know which is preferred. A quick Google News search of “zookeeper” turned up 377 hits versus only 46 for zoo keeper. Clearly the media prefer the compound. However, the American Association of Zoo Keepers obviously chose the two word approach for their name. I decided to go right to the horse's mouth and ask the AAZK for their thoughts. Here is their mostly definitive response as written up by one of their board members:
When you are talking about the actual occupation, it is zookeeper (like bookkeeper). But when you are referring to all the other people/occupations that are involved in keeping a zoo running, like curators, volunteers, etc., it is two words. I believe this is why AAZK is two words, because it is not only for actual zookeepers, but is open to everyone involved in 'keeping a zoo running'. Someone explained this to me many years ago, and I have always thought it made sense, and have always followed it when writing.
So it appears there is room for both zookeepers and zoo keepers in this world. Fascinating stuff (to me and probably like 9 other readers). If you have your own opinion, feel free to weigh in!

Zoological Gardens and Curiosity Cabinets

July 24, 2008  scienceblogs.com

Despite their efforts many zoos and museums are little different than the curiosity cabinets and zoological gardens of centuries past. Things are more organized, the science is updated, and in the case of zoos the animals are generally treated much better, but the main reason people still visit these places is to see things that are extraordinary. Occasionally I'll force myself to read some explanatory text but generally I just go to observe like most everyone else. The question is "How can these institutions more actively engage visitors during their visit?"  Some zoos have taken a more active role in engaging visitors through the use of enthusiastic (sometimes even over-enthusiastic) docents. The Bronx zoo also has staff stationed at some of the more popular exhibits, holding tiger enrichment demonstrations and public feedings of some animals, as well as a guided tour of the African animals at the zoo.  I also have to wonder if zoos and museums should revitalize two different ideas that seem to have fallen out of fashion. When I was young my parents would often take me to the Turtleback Zoo, the zoo selling an "elephant key" that was placed into a speakerbox and turned at different exhibits to explain something about the animals. It might seem plain but I thought it was great fun; I always wanted to be sure I had my elephant key when I went to the zoo. Likewise, zoos and museums used to produce special booklets that guided visitors through their exhibits and provided more detail about the exhibits and their history.

National Wetlands Conference Issues Warning

July 24, 2008  www.enn.com 

WASHINGTON -- The world's wetlands contain 771 billion tons of greenhouse gases, one-fifth of all the carbon on Earth and about the same amount of carbon as is now in the atmosphere, the scientists said before an international conference linking wetlands and global warming.  If all the wetlands on the planet released the carbon they hold, it would contribute powerfully to the climate-warming greenhouse effect, said Paulo Teixeira, coordinator of the Pantanal Regional Environment Program in Brazil.  Some 700 scientists from 28 nations are meeting this week at the INTECOL International Wetlands Conference at the edge of Brazil's vast Pantanal wetland to look for ways to protect these endangered areas.  Wetlands are not just swamps: they also include marshes, peat bogs, river deltas, mangroves, tundra, lagoons and river flood plains.  Together they account for 6 percent of Earth's land surface and store 20 percent of its carbon. They also produce 25 percent of the world's food, purify water, recharge aquifers and act as buffers against violent coastal storms.  About 60 percent of wetlands worldwide have been destroyed in the past century, mostly due to draining for agriculture.Pollution, dams, canals, groundwater pumping, urban development and peat extraction add to the destruction.As the globe warms, water from wetlands is likely to evaporate, rising sea levels could change wetlands' salinity or completely inundate them.

Endangered Species Permit Application

July 24, 2008   www.epa.gov 

The Jeffrey Schmid, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, , Naples, FL 34102, has applied in due form for a permit to take Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles for purposes of research. The purpose of the proposed research activities is to characterize the aggregations of marine turtles in the nearshore waters of Lee County in southwest Florida. Turtles would be collected in Pine Island Sound, San Carlos Bay, Estero Bay, and adjacent Gulf of Mexico waters using a large-mesh, run-around strike net. Turtles would be measured, weighed, and tagged with Inconel tags on the trailing edge of the front flippers and a passive integrated transponder tag inserted in the left front flipper. Tissue samples would be collected for genetic and stable isotope analyses. The applicant requests annual take of 130 Kemp's ridley, 50 loggerhead, 20 green, and five hawksbill turtles. A subset of Kemp's ridleys would be held for 24-48 hrs. for fecal sample collection. Another subset of Kemp's ridleys would receive electronic transmitters to investigate their movements, home range, and habitat associations. The applicant is requesting a five-year permit.  The application and related documents are available for review  Written comments on this application should be mailed to the Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, F/PR1, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910.  Comments may also be submitted by e-mail. The mailbox address for providing e-mail comments is NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov  Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier:File No. 13544. For further information contact:  Kate Swails or Patrick Opay, (301)713-2289.

USFWS Will Award Endangered Species Grants

July 24, 2008  www.fws.gov   By Erica Szlosek

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking proposals from States interested in obtaining federal grant assistance to acquire land or conduct planning for endangered species conservation efforts for  fiscal year 2009.  The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (the Fund) will provide approximately $75.5 million in grant funding for conservation planning activities and habitat acquisition for federally protected species.  Proposals must be submitted to the California and Nevada Regional Office by September 22, 2008. They can be sent to: USFWS Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program, 2800 Cottage Way, Suite W-2606, Sacramento, Calif., 95825. These grants help to States and Territories to protect vital habitat and work with local communities, private landowners and others to conserve threatened and endangered species." By law, the participating state or territory must have a current cooperative agreement with the Secretary of the Interior and contribute 25 percent of the estimated program costs of approved projects, or 10 percent when two or more States or Territories undertake a joint project. 

The Service is seeking proposals for the following three grant categories under the Fund:
Recovery Land Acquisition Grants - These grants provide funds to States and Territories for acquisition of threatened and endangered species habitat in support of approved and draft species recovery plans.  Acquiring habitat in order to secure long term protection is often the critical element in a comprehensive recovery effort for a listed species.
Habitat Conservation Planning Assistance Grants  - This category provides funds to States and Territories to support the development of Habitat Conservation Plans (HCPs). The purpose of an HCP is to ensure adequate protection for threatened and endangered species, while at the same time providing for economic growth and development. These grants provide support for baseline surveys and inventories, document preparation, outreach, and similar planning activities.
HCP Land Acquisition Grants  - These grants provide funds to States and Territories to acquire land associated with approved HCPs.  Grants do not fund the mitigation required of an HCP permittee, but rather, support acquisitions by the state or local governments that complement actions associated with the HCP.

For more information about these grants and grant application requirements contact: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Consultation, Habitat Conservation Planning, Recovery and State Grants, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 420, Arlington, VA 22203, 703-358-2106. Information also can be accessed at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/grants/

Pittsburgh Zoo Welcomes 2nd Baby Elephant This Month

July 25, 2008  www.post-gazette.com  By Don Hopey

A baby elephant was born at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium at 5:30 this morning. The 200 pound female baby and the 25-year-old mother, Moja, are healthy and bonding well.  This was the second successful birth of an elephant at the zoo this month. On July 9, Savannah, another 25-year-old African elephant, gave birth to a female. Jackson, the zoo's bull elephant, is the father of both calves. This month's elephant births were the first at the zoo since Savannah delivered an elephant now named Callee in 2000.

Phoenix Zoo Boosts Black-footed Ferret Population

July 25, 2008  www.azcentral.com 

PHOENIX, Arizona -- The Phoenix Zoo has been involved in a breeding program for the black-footed ferret since 1985 and has had more than 380 ferrets born in its on-site facility. 22 kits were born this year.  Usually, females have litters of three to four kits. This year, the zoo's female ferrets are producing five to six kits per litter, with the most recent delivery of a litter of six kits on July 7.  The zoo is one of only five breeding facilities in North America. The zoo was one of the earliest facilities to participate in the recovery program, and has released 85 ferrets born at the zoo into the wild.  The black-footed ferret is native to western grasslands, where it once roamed from Canada to Mexico, but by the 1960s, there was only one known wild population left: a small colony in South Dakota. 

Mill Mountain Zoo Considers Expansion

July 25, 2008  www.roanoke.com    By Pete Dybdahl

Mill Mountain Zoo is considering an expansion that would add approximately 2 acres of exhibit space. Sara Brooks, president of the Mill Mountain Zoological Society, said the zoo was eager to secure the land for future growth and get the long-anticipated "Virginia Wild" project off the ground. The project would feature animals native to the state.  . Dave Orndorff, the zoo's executive director, said the project would have little impact on the landscape.  "The last thing we want to do is put up a lot of highly visible structures that take away from the scenic beauty of the mountain," he said.  Expansion on the mountain would first require several rounds of approval, including the MMAC, the Roanoke Department of Parks and Recreation and the Roanoke City Council.  The nonprofit zoo leases its 8-acre property from the city. It has developed 412 acres.

Bob the Builder Rescues Zoo Animals

July 25, 2008  www.usatoday.com/

PBS cartoon handyman, discovers penguins in the ice cream shop, alligators in the public pool, and a lion on top of the mayor's desk.  He swings into action to build the Bobland Bay Zoo. But Bob the Builder and his animated truck friends can't do all this building alone. They need the help of your child in this new preschool computer edutainment title.  Available via download for $19.95 from www.beanstalkgames.com , Bob the Builder: Can-Do Zoo offers preschoolers ages 3 to 5 a fun way to play with fix-it man Bob and his machine friends Scrambler, Scoop and Muck. Boxed versions of the game will be available in stores in September.  Kids join Bob and his truck friends to build five enclosures for the elephants, penguins, monkeys, alligators and lions.

KC Zoo Prepares for “Zoo-tennial”

July 25, 2008  www.kansascity.com    By Matt Campbell

The Kansas City Zoo is soliciting old photos and memories from its supporters in preparation for  next year’s “Zoo-tennial” celebration. The zoo opened Dec. 13, 1909, with one building, four lions, a wildcat, three monkeys and a badger, among other critters. Zoo officials hope that people will send their zoo recollections to Centennial, Kansas City Zoo, 6800 Zoo Drive, Kansas City MO 64132. Materials may also be e-mailed to max_evans@fotzkc.org.

Sharks Critical for Ocean Health

July 25, 2008  www.enn.com 

Washington, D.C. -- A new report released by Oceana today concludes that sharks are invaluable to maintaining healthy ocean ecosystems. “Predators as Prey: Why Healthy Oceans Need Sharks” shows that as shark populations decline, the oceans suffer unpredictable and devastating consequences. Sharks now represent the largest group of threatened marine species on the World Conservation Union's (IUCN) Red List of threatened species. Each year, humans kill more than 100 million sharks worldwide. Shark finning alone kills 26 to 73 million sharks annually. Because shark carcasses are bulky, take up a lot of space and are less valuable, they are often thrown overboard. In fact, the practice of shark finning is extremely wasteful and only uses between one and five percent of the shark. Sharks also are incidentally captured as "bycatch," a term used for unintended catch, in commercial fisheries. It is estimated that tens of millions of sharks are caught as bycatch each year, which is nearly half of the total shark catch worldwide. As top predators, sharks affect other animals in a cascading effect throughout the entire ocean, regulating and maintain the balance of life in the ocean. Sharks also can indirectly control the health of coral reefs and the health of seagrass beds, and ultimately, bottom communities.  Oceana looks for fast action to enact the Shark Conservation Act of 2008 into law

Mustard for Natural Pest Control

July 25, 2008  www.csiro.au 

Researchers, growers and Industry specialists from 22 countries will share the latest research into the use of Brassica species, such as mustard, radish, or rapeseed, to manage soil-borne pests and weeds – a technique known as biofumigation.  The scientists are participants at the Third International Biofumigation Symposium in Canberra from 21 – 25 July 2008.  “Brassica plants naturally release compounds that suppress pests and pathogens, principally isothiocyanates (ITCs), which most people would recognise as the ‘hot’ flavour in mustard or horseradish,” says CSIRO’s Dr John Kirkegaard.  “When ITCs are released in soil by green-manuring, soil-borne pests and pathogens can be suppressed and the yields of solanaceous vegetables such as potatoes, tomatoes and eggplants can be increased by up to 40 per cent in some cases.  “The technique is relevant to developed countries seeking alternatives to banned synthetic pesticides such as methyl-bromide, as well as poor farmers in developing countries who often have few alternatives for controlling serious diseases in their crops,” Dr Kirkegaard says. “The technique is relevant to developed countries seeking alternatives to banned synthetic pesticides such as methyl-bromide, as well as poor farmers in developing countries who often have few alternatives for controlling serious diseases in their crops.”

Protection for Sonoran Pygmy Owls

July 25, 2008  www.enn.com

The cactus ferruginous pygmy owl population in northern Sonora, Mexico, has declined over the past nine years, according to an ongoing monitoring effort by University of Arizona researcher Aaron Flesch. The study found that pygmy owls in northern Sonora have declined 4.4 percent per year, or 36 percent overall since the year 2000, and concluded that "should this apparent decline continue, recovery strategies that rely on pygmy-owls from northern Sonora and persistence of pygmy-owls in the Sonoran Desert could be jeopardized." In 2008, pygmy-owl abundance and territory occupancy were the lowest since the study began.  Declines were more severe in regions of northern Sonora with greater intensity of human land use, such as woodcutting and agricultural development. Evidence also suggests that reproductive success was lower during years with low winter rainfall, and the National Research Council predicts that drought in the Southwest may become more common due to global warming..  On May 30, the USFWS determined that there was  substantial information that pygmy owls in Arizona and Sonora may warrant protection. The agency is currently conducting a review of the species’ status. The pygmy owl was listed as an endangered species in Arizona until 2006, but was removed by the Bush administration based on the bird’s presence in Mexico.

Removing Feral Cats from San Nicolas Island 

July 25, 2008  www.enn.com 

USFWS plans to remove feral (wild) cats from San Nicolas Island, one of the Channel Islands of California.  "Feral and free-ranging domestic cats have been introduced to the Islands where they prey upon the small mammals, birds and amphibians that are native to San Nicolas Island," commented Dr. Michael Hutchins, executive director/CEO of The Wildlife Society. "We commend the approach outlined by FWS that will remove feral cats from San Nicolas Island, allowing the native populations of plants and animals to thrive." San Nicolas is the northernmost of the Channel Islands. Although the island is uninhabited, there is generally a small contingent of military and civilian personnel on the island at any time due to its use as a weapons and training facility for the U.S. Navy. Cats were thought to have been brought to the island probably originally as pets but later possibly for pest control -- large numbers of feral cats were roaming the island by the late 1950s.  Native bird populations, especially Brandt's cormorant and western gull are threatened by feral cats and several federal agencies have been working to remove the cats in order to protect the seabirds' nesting grounds. The cats also prey on two animals on the federal list of threatened species, the island night lizard and the western snowy plover. In addition, feral cats also compete for prey, particularly the deer mouse, with the San Nicolas Island fox, a state threatened species.

Puffin Numbers Fall

July 25, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk  By Mark Kinver

England's biggest colony of puffins, the population on the Farne Islands, owned by the National Trust, has fallen by a third in just five years.  One theory is that many of the birds are dying from starvation during the eight months they spend at sea. David Steel, the Trust's head warden on the islands, said "There were plenty of chicks fledging from the nests, so we were not only getting enough to maintain the population, but increase it. Something is going badly wrong somewhere." The three-month survey, carried out on eight of the islands, recorded 36,500 breeding pairs. The previous survey, which was conducted in 2003, counted 55,674 pairs.  In order to monitor the situation, Mr Steel said the Trust would carry out another survey next year.  "We are going to target the islands that saw the biggest decreases," he explained.  Puffins nest in burrows, so their numbers are assessed by counting the number of occupied burrows, after the birds have cleaned out their nests and before vegetation begins to grow over.  Mr Steel explained: "We can then compare them with this year's results because we actually have 20 square metres on each island mapped, so we can go back to a particular spot and see what the impact is next year.

Uncertain Future for Thailand’s Elephants

July 26, 2008  www.physorg.com 

The logging trade employed virtually all Thai elephants in 1989 and banning that trade made 2,000 animals and their Mahouts - or trainers - unemployed overnight, forcing many onto the streets to beg for cash.  Though transferring to the tourism trade has improved working conditions for many elephants, their future remains under a cloud argues Professor Rosaleen Duffy of Manchester University.  "There is evidence that street walking persists in some areas and that can be traumatic for the animals and a nuisance for humans," she said.  "And the almost total reliance on the tourist trade makes the Thai elephants especially vulnerable to a downturn in the market. "The December 2004 tsunami had - at least to some extent - that effect. The rising oil prises of today are bound to affect air travel and hence tourism as well.  "The elephants are very important in Thai culture, and mahouts generally only beg on the streets with their elephants as an absolute last resort.  However, the picture is not all bad: mistreatment of elephants was far more prevalent in the logging industry than in tourism.  According to Professor Duffy and Dr Moore, many of the elephant camps in Thailand treat their animals well.  And the 2000 elephants employed in today' s Thai tourism industry may be used to add the declining elephant gene pool of 1000 wild elephants.  A program which trains captive elephants to survive in the wild is undertaken at the Thai Elephant Conservation Centre (TECC).  TECC is also experimenting with alternative schemes to generate income from elephants including elephant dung paper and elephant dung fertiliser.  A TECC project with University of Chiang Mai has found that when autistic children are allowed to interact with the elephants their condition improves.

4 Scimitar Horned Oryxes Born at Chester Zoo

July 27, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk

The birth of four Scimitar-Horned Oryx calves will play a vital part in the animal’s conservation.  The species is listed on the World Conservation Union (IUCN) list as extinct in the wild.  The calves were all born between May and June, and bring the Zoo’s population to thirteen.  Tim Rowlands, Assistant Curator of Higher Vertebrates, said they would eventually form new breeding herds. "This is a new blood line” he said, “and as they are all males they will eventually go on to form new breeding herds at other collections."  All four calves were fathered by male oryx Ronnie, who came to the zoo last year.

Wildfire Causes Condor Evacuation at LA Zoo

July 27, 2008  latimesblogs.latimes.com
A hillside brush fire that broke out this afternoon in Griffith Park prompted an evacuation of the Los Angeles Zoo and came dangerously close to a California Condor breeding center.  The 15-acre blaze, which firefighters squelched in three hours, did not burn onto zoo property. But as a precaution, zoo officials evacuated more than 4,000 visitors at 1:05 p.m.  Also evacuated were 18 California Condors and two King Vultures. Workers put the birds in crates and relocated them to an area of the zoo more distant from the fire.  The Condors West breeding center, one of two on zoo property, was of particular concern because it is in a secluded area that was closest to the wildfire, Jacobs said.  “Because of the heat, the smoke and the uncertainty of the fire, the decision was made to evacuate,” he said.

Chattbir Zoo Will Breed Shaheen Falcons

July 27, 2008   www.dnaindia.com
NEW DELHI: Chattbir Zoo in Punjab will soon breed the endangered Shaheen falcons, popularly known as 'baaz' and revered by the Sikh community as a prized possession of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth guru of Sikhs.  This is the first such project approved by India’s Central Zoo. The falcon’s decline was largely due to it’s consumption of DDT-infested preys.  Chattbir was selected as a coordinating zoo for the falcons' breeding program because of the bird's historical importance to the Sikh community. Dharminder Sharma, field director of the Chattbir Zoo, said, "We have already identified two acres of land for the falcon's breeding, and hope to procure a breeding pair locally or from another zoo”   Talks are being held with the directors of Sweden and Dubai zoos for technical guidance on how to raise and breed falcons. Shahid Khan of Jaipur, who has an exclusive right to keep falcons in the country will also be asked to help. The highly endangered bird is classified under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Protection Act along with the Royal Bengal Tiger.  The Shaheen is a resident bird while most of the falcons migrates to India seasonally from Russia and parts of central Asia.

Bird Olfaction

July 27, 2008  www.nature.com

Smell may be much more important to the way birds perceive their surroundings than biologists have thought. A study of nine species of bird from seven orders found, in all cases, that the majority of olfactory-receptor genes were probably functional, report Silke Steiger of the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Starnberg, Germany, and her co-workers. The only previous estimate — from a draft genomic sequence of the red jungle fowl (Gallus gallus) — put that proportion at just 15%.  The total number of working olfactory-receptor genes that an animal has probably indicates how many different scents it can distinguish. Of the species in this sample, the kakapo (Strigops habroptilus, pictured), which forages at night, had the most 'smell' genes, 82% of which probably contribute to this bird's sense of smell.  The study appears in a recent issue of the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 

4 Baby Pandas Born at Wolong

July 27, 2008  www.upi.com 

CHENGDU, China -- Three giant pandas gave birth to a total of four cubs, all delivered within 14 hours of each other, at the Chengdu Panda Breeding Research Center.  Nine-year-old panda, Magic Luck, delivered twin female cubs Saturday.  Eight-year-old panda, Success, delivered a cub Saturday before Pearl, 8, delivered a cub early Sunday.  The base is home to 71 giant pandas. 

Worship Services at Southwick Zoo

July 27, 2008  www.telegram.com

MENDON—Sunday morning outdoor services are being held at Southwick’s Zoo Earth Discovery Center, beginning with St. Francis’ prayer for the animals.  “Give us the grace to see all animals as gifts from You and to treat them with respect for who they are: Your creation.  We pray for all animals who are suffering as a result of our neglect.”  This message has been the theme for Summer Worship at Southwick’s Zoo, a program started by Earth Limited Inc., a conservation effort based out of the zoo, in conjunction with First Evangelical Congregational Church of Uxbridge.The Rev. Merten,  and Betsey R. Brewer, executive director of the zoo and president of Earth Limited, are working together to raise awareness of the necessity of environmental conservation. The focus of the services is concern over the growing environmental problems facing the world, not just the United States.  The first two services entered on the necessity of saving endangered animals. The third worship meeting focused on the rain forest and the natural and medical resources being lost with every acre that is torn down. The final four meetings will each take on a different continent: Asia, Australia, North America and South America. With each new week comes a new message and central question the worshippers are faced with. The last one was, “Are we good stewards of the Earth?” Attendees are entertained at the end of service by animal guests — from macaws, to chimpanzees, to kangaroos.

LA Zoo Reopens After Fire

July 28, 2008  www.mercurynews.com

LOS ANGELES—The Los Angeles Zoo is reopening as investigators probe the cause of a Griffith Park brushfire.  The blaze burned through 25 acres of dry brush and was declared knocked down at 3 p.m.  Flames came within 1,000 feet of the condor area, on the zoo's secluded western edge, prompting officials to move 20 birds, including five chicks, three juveniles and two King vultures, to a safer, more central location. The birds are being moved back to their facility today.

Mexican Zoo Owner Ready to Receive Dallas Elephant

July 28, 2008  www.dallasnews.com   BY LAURENCE ILIFF

PUEBLA, Mexico – Jenny, an African elephant that has resided at the  Dallas Zoo is headed to African Safari, a 500-acre animal park in the central Mexican state of Puebla.  Amy Camacho, whose late father opened the drive-through zoo 36 years ago, said "We are used to being recognized and deeply loved in Mexico, so we are a little surprised,"   Although Ms. Camacho did expect an animated debate on whether Jenny should be moved to the Puebla park or an elephant refuge in Tennessee, she did not expect attacks to be aimed at Africam.  she said.  Critics, led by Dallas City Council member Angela Hunt, have said Mexico does not have the same animal welfare standards as the United States. Some also have raised concern about construction and the cars traveling through Africam.  Africam, Ms. Camacho said, exceeds U.S. and international regulations on the treatment of animals. She said Jenny would have 25 times the minimum space required for an elephant by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which the park is a member.  She would be housed on about five acres with some privacy. On a recent visit, only two of the park's three Asian elephants were visible; the other had moved out of sight. Park patrons are not allowed to get out of their cars or feed the animals.  Africam has about 1 million visitors per year. They have 300 workers and in the high season, and 500 employees," she said.

Orange County Zoo Profile

July 28, 2008    latimesblogs.latimes.com

The 5-acre wooded Orange County Zoo at the base of the Santa Ana Mountains is home to about 60 hard-luck animals who have had run-ins, bad breaks and unfortunate entanglements with humankind. Visitors to the hard-to-find zoo in Irvine Regional Park in Orange encounter a hobbling bald eagle (below), a lopsided vulture, a porcupine, four-horned sheep, a raccoon that was the runt of his litter and a potbellied pig that outlived its owner, who died of cancer.  Specializing in animals native to the Southwest and accepting only those that cannot be released into the wild have made the Orange County Zoo a repository for creatures with unusual, harrowing stories.  The aim of keeping them all together is to teach people about the animals they're likely to encounter in the hills, canyons and backyards of Southern California, said zoo manager.

Panda Photos from the Beijing Zoo

July 28, 2008  en.beijing2008.cn

The eight "Olympic pandas", brought to Beijing to add cheers to the Olympic Games, have witnessed more than one million visitors since their arrival in Beijing from the Wolong Giant Panda Nature Reserve on June 5.  Photos of the eight bears are at:

Toledo Zoo’s New Program: Conservation Today

July 28, 2008  www.wtol.com  by James Canterbury

TOLEDO, Ohio --  America's aquariums and zoos combine to make up the largest conservation group in the country. And the Toledo Zoo’s Conservation Today program showcases what they are doing locally as well as globally. This summer, zoo staff will participate in the first ever conservation planning for an entire country – Aruba, led by zoo curator Dr. Anne Baker. The zoo is also highlighting 6 different animal species for special assistance. By purchasing something from the Zoo gift shop with a Conservation Today Tag, a portion of the proceeds goes to conservation efforts.  A donation of five dollars allows a spin the wheel of savings to win a prize. 100% of the coins tossed in designated fountains around the zoo are used to promote conservation.

North Carolina Conservators' Center Will Send Tigers to Baghdad Zoo

July 28, 2008 www.thetimesnews.com 

MEBANE, North Carolina -- The Baghdad Zoo barely survived the Iraq war's early days but is now a rare spot of peace in Baghdad just outside the Green Zone. "You just feel safe," said Capt. Jason Felix, whose unit is in charge of the zoo. "It's like you're not really in Iraq. It's kind of the one real success story."  In December, Felix decided the place needed a tiger - a marquee animal that would really draw crowds.  The zoo already had lions, some of them the former personal pets of Uday, and word reached Mindy Stinner at Caswell's Conservators' Center.  She and Douglas Evans keep 87 animals at Conservators' Center, counting a pair of domestic dogs.  On 45 acres.  The Center also houses three red foxes, a pair of gray wolves, lions, tigers, bobcats, lemurs, kinkajous and bintarongs.  It's a hobby that took over their lives. They're not strictly a sanctuary because some of their animals breed, but they are never for sale. They usually take animals from places shut down by the U.S.D.A. , including 14 lions and tigers in 2004 from a single owner who had been feeding them rancid meat. They got assurance from three veterinarians in Iraq, either with the military or USDA. They saw pictures of the cages online and took comfort in the trees and swimming pool the tigers will use.  Riley and Hope, both just over a year old, came via donation from another sanctuary in North Carolina, and will be able to adapt to new surroundings.

Computers I.D. Birdsongs

July 28, 2008  www.sciencedaily.com

Computer scientists from the University of Bonn, in conjunction with the birdsong archives of Berlin’s Humboldt University, have developed a new type of voice detector that can reliably recognize the characteristic birdsong of different species of birds, facilitating surveys of the bird population. Microphones are placed at selected points in the wild; recording all the sounds made, in some cases over a period of months. The new computer software can then sift through the many hundreds of hours of recorded material and determine how many birds of which species have been singing and how often they have been doing this.  Daniel Wolff of the Institute of Computer Science at the University of Bonn initially concentrated on the bio-acoustic recognition of the Savi’s warbler and the chaffinch. He scrutinised the various types of birdsong in a spectrogram and transferred the characteristics to algorithms. As soon as specific parameters are met, the program kicks in. ‘For example, the signal of the Savi’s warbler has a mean frequency of 4 kHz, which is very typical. If, in addition, individual elements of the signal are repeated at a frequency of 50 Hz, this is detected as the call of a Savi’s warbler,’ Daniel explains. The chaffinch detector also analyses periodic repetitions of elements like these. In doing so it reveals more of a typical verse structure than the pitch of the chaffinch’s song.  The birdsong detectors are as yet only calibrated for the birdsong of individual species. However, in the near future, Daniel Wulff thinks, it will be possible to link them up to a kind of superdetector which can recognise as many species as possible and, in combination with GPS coordinates, will make the mapping of bird populations simpler and more efficient.

Extinct Lemur Skull Reconstructed

July 28, 2008  www.livescience.com  By Jeanna Bryner

Some 160 million years ago, Madagascar began to split off from the super-continent known as Gondwanaland, and developed its own unique flora and fauna.  The lemurs' original ancestor popped up on Madagascar and diversified ultimately into eight families, of which three are now extinct. Now researchers have ‘virtually’ glued together the newly discovered skull fragments of an extinct giant lemur, creating a nearly complete computer rendering of it’s skull.  A new study of this virtual reconstruction of Hadropithecus stenognathus suggests the animal was the size of a large male baboon. (A red-ruffed lemur weighs about 9 pounds (4 kg). The extinct lemur would have weighed about 65 pounds (29 kg). The nearly complete virtual skull, is described this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and is one of only two known skulls of the species.  "This was an extremely rare lemur," said Ian Tattersall of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, who wrote a commentary on the study.  H. stenognathus had one of the largest brains relative to body size of any known prosimian, with a large, bony crest similar to that seen in gorillas, where powerful chewing muscles attached. The evidence, the researchers say, suggests this lemur ate hard foods, such as seeds and nuts. (Prosimian are primitive primate group comprising lorises, lemurs and bushbabies, all of whom have wet, sensitive noses).

Saving the Great Migrations

July 28, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Previously,  hundreds of thousands of bison passed over the Great Plains, millions of passenger pigeons migrated to and from their breeding grounds, and some 12.5 trillion Rocky Mountain locusts crowded an area exceeding the size of California. The subject of great migrations—lost and still to be saved—is explored in two new articles published online today in the journal PLoS Biology.  In the first article, "Going, Going, Gone: Is Animal Migration Disappearing?" David S. Wilcove and Martin Wikelski describe the threats facing the widespread phenomena of migration - from whales to warblers, dragonflies to salamanders. Many of the most spectacular migrations have disappeared or experienced steep declines due to human behavior. Wilcove, author of "No Way Home: The Decline of the World's Great Animal Migrations," argues that conserving this spectacular phenomenon is critical to efforts to understand it. Prior to European settlement, 160-226 million kilograms of salmon migrated each year up the rivers of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, and California. Today, after decades of dam construction, overfishing, irrigation, logging, and streamside grazing by livestock, the total biomass of spawning salmon in the Pacific Northwest is now estimated to be only 12-14 million kilograms.

Cincinnati Zoo Enhances Web Site

July 28, 2008   news.cincinnati.com  By Jim Knippenberg

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden’s Web site is now brighter, flashier, more informative, more convenient, better organized and, most of all, easier to navigate.  The newest feature found on a visit to www.cincinnatizoo.org is the online ticket feature where visitors can buy in advance and in most cases save $1 per admission. Besides basic admission, visitors can also buy ride packages for the tram, train and carousel or an assortment of combo packages for admission, rides and the 4-D Special FX Theater. There’s also an option for visitors looking to purchase tickets for the Zoo Education Programs and another one for companies and individuals looking to buy discounted group tickets or planning private events, including weddings.  The “Animals and Exhibits” feature has also been expanded and now includes the basic information about specific animal as well as surprising factoids.  Video options have also expanded. The elaborate file offers at least 25 videos of animals doing their thing as well as zookeepers tending to them.  The “Events Calendar” has expanded with more entries and more detail, including an early section on PNC Festival of Lights. Likewise the “Plan a Visit” feature has been expanded and now includes a zoo map visitors can use to plan routes in advance (maps are also available at the gate). The “Plants and Gardens” section has also expanded to include information on most of the 3,000 plant species found on the grounds.

Wildlife Mortality Events : National Wildlife Health Center

July 28, 2008  www.nwhc.usgs.gov

USGS and a network of partners across the country work on documenting wildlife mortality events in order to provide timely and accurate information on locations, species and causes of death. This information was updated on July 25, 2008 on the USGS National Wildlife Health Center web page, New and Ongoing Wildlife Mortality Events Nationwide, and is available at: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/mortality_events/ongoing.jsp Quarterly Mortality Reports are also available from this page. These reports go back to 1995.

Austrian Lion Cubs May be Atlas Crossbreed

July 28, 2008  afp.google.com

VIENNA (AFP) — Lion cub triplets thought to be a sub-species of the Atlas lion, extinct in the wild for almost a century, have been born at a Vienna zoo, curators said Monday.  Tiergarten Schonbrunn Zoo said in a statement that the mother and the father "display typical traits of a sub-species of the Atlas lion," also known as Barbary or Nubian lions and best known for the male's extravagant, full-flowing mane.  The zoo said very few of these lions live on even in captivity -- an AFP count in September 2006 put the number at around 50, after two Atlas lion cubs were born in a zoo in western France.  The last-known Atlas lion in the wild was killed by a poacher in Morocco in 1922.  The mother, named Somali, is behaving in an agitated manner, the vets indicated, with management closing off the caged area to visitors until the cubs and their mother settle.

India’s Conservationists Protect Jerdon’s courser

July 28, 2008  www.economist.com/research

In 2006 conservationists petitioned Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, chief minister of the southern Indian state, Andhra Pradesh to designate the endemic Jerdon’s courser, as the official bird. But Mr Reddy worried that the courser did not exist.  It had been presumed extinct for decades and was only “rediscovered “ in 1986.  The nocturnal courser—also known as the double-banded courser— has only been seen 10 times since 1986, in a single patch of scrub forest.  Its call has been heard about 30 times, most recently in June. According to an unpublished study by researchers at Britain’s University of Reading—based on the habits of similar species—the courser’s protected forest could hold up to (but probably not more than) 32 pairs of the bird. It is one of 13 Indian bird species classified as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), a grouping of governments and NGOs.

Mr Reddy might also have been reluctant because an important development project - a 400-km channel, known as the Telugu-Ganga canal.  The project will bring water for irrigation but has been stalled since 2006 by order of India’s Supreme Court, after conservationists complained that the canal would bisect the last habitat of the Jerdon’s courser.  At the urging of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), an NGO, the state irrigation ministry has now agreed to reroute the canal. (Though haggling continues over its exact course.) The government has also more or less agreed to add 3,000 acres of adjoining land to the courser’s sanctuary.The BNHS, meanwhile, is trying to catch and then radio-tag two specimens of the courser—and so prove to Mr Reddy its inconvenient existence. Though poor, densely populated and home to many threatened species, India has lost only a handful of animals in recent decades: for example, the Asiatic cheetah, Javanese rhinoceros and Sikkim stag. And it has lost only two species of bird: the pink-headed duck and Himalayan mountain quail. Like the Jerdon’s courser, the forest owlet was also ruled extinct before it was rediscovered. A fish, the Ladakh snow trout, may have similarly have re-emerged from the abyss. Yet its wildlife is in jeopardy: from a poor and fast-growing population, eating into India’s remaining forests and marshes; and also, increasingly, from infrastructure projects, fuelled by strong economic growth. The IUCN now groups India with China, Brazil and Indonesia, as countries with the highest number of species facing extinction.

First Underwater Survey of California Reefs by Voluteer Scientists

July 28, 2008  www.enn.com 

A network of over 200 volunteer divers from the Reef Check Foundation has completed a statewide scientific survey of California’s rocky reef ecosystems. Results of the first two years of the survey have been released in a 135-page report, "Reef Check California 2006—2007: Citizen Monitoring to Improve Marine Conservation." Initial results show differences in fish and invertebrate populations in various parts of the state. For example, divers found that abalone were still quite rare at the Southern California survey sites whereas, in northern California, noticeably smaller red abalone were found in shallow waters accessible to recreational fishing than found in deep waters. The report will provide baseline data for future comparisons on changing marine ecosystems. An executive summary, photos, and the full report can be accessed at www.reefcheck.org/rcca/2yr.php.  The Reef Check Foundation trains and certifies recreational scuba divers in scientific methods so they can carry out ecological monitoring. Working in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG). They surveyed 73 “indicator species,”  such as spiny lobster and California sheephead fish, on 48 reefs located from Mendocino to San Diego. So far, these citizen scientists have counted over 80,000 organisms.  In 2008, the California survey is expanding to 60 sites from Eureka to Baja California and experienced divers can sign up for training at www.ReefCheck.org . Information on state marine management initiatives is at www.dfg.ca.gov/marin .

Possible Listing of Tucson Shovel-Nosed Snake

July 29, 2008  www.epa.gov 

The USFWS has completed a 90-day finding on a petition to list the Tucson shovel-nosed snake (Chionactis occipitalis klauberi) as threatened or endangered  We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that listing the Tucson shovel-nosed snake may be warranted.Therefore, with the publication of this notice, we are initiating a status review of the subspecies, and we will issue a 12-month finding to determine if listing the subspecies is warranted. To ensure that the status review of the Tucson shovel-nosed snake is comprehensive, we are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding this subspecies. Information must be submitted on or before September 29, 2008 to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov  or US mail : Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R2-ES-2008-0060, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203. We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all information received on http://www.regulations.gov  For further information contact:  Steve Spangle, Field Supervisor, Arizona Ecological Services Office, 2321 West Royal Palm Drive, Suite 103, Phoenix, AZ 85021; telephone 602-242-0210; facsimile 602-242-2513.

Annual Notice of Findings on Foreign Species

July 29, 2008  www.epa.gov
In this posting USFWS describes their status review of 50 foreign taxa that were the subjects of previous warranted-but-precluded findings, most recently summarized in our 2007 Notice of Review (72 FR 20184). Based on our current review, we find that 20 species continue to warrant listing, but that their listing remains precluded by higher-priority listing actions. For 30 species previously found to be warranted but precluded, the petitioned action is now warranted. We will promptly publish listing proposals for those 30 species.  With this annual notice of review (ANOR), we are requesting additional status information for the 20 taxa that remain warranted but precluded by higher priority listing actions. We will consider this information in preparing listing documents and future resubmitted petition findings for these 20 taxa. This information will also help us to monitor the status of the taxa and in conserving them.  We will accept comments on these resubmitted petition findings at any time.  Submit any comments, information, and questions by mail to the Chief, Division of Scientific Authority, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 110, Arlington, Virginia 22203; by fax to 703-358-2276; or by e-mail to ScientificAuthority@fws.gov  For further information contact  Mary M. Cogliano, PhD, at the above address or by telephone 703-358-1708; fax, 703-358-2276; or e-mail, ScientificAuthority@fws.gov

The 30 taxa proposed for listing in taxonomic order:
Jun[iacute]n flightless grebe (Podiceps taczanowskii),
greater adjutant stork (Leptoptilos dubius),
Andean flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus),
Brazilian merganser (Mergus octosetaceus),
Caucau Guan (Crax alberti),
blue-billed curassow (Penelope perspicax),
Cantabrian capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus cantabricus),
gorgeted wood-quail (Odontophorus strophium),
Jun[iacute]n rail (Laterallus tuerosi),
Jerdon's Courser (Rhinoptilus bitorquatus),
slender billed curlew (Numenius tenuirostris),
Marquesan imperial pigeon (Ducula galeata),
salmon-crested cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis),
southeastern rufous-vented ground-cuckoo (Neomorphus geoffroyi dulcis),
Margaretta's hermit (Phaethornis malaris margarettae),
 black-breasted puffleg (Eriocnemis nigrivestis),
Chilean woodstar (Eulidia yarrellii),
Esmeraldas woodstar (Chaetocerus berlepschi),
royal cinclodes (Cinclodes aricomae), white-browed tit-spinetail (Leptasthenura xenothorax), black-hooded antwren (Formicivora erythronotos),
fringe-backed fire-eye (Pyriglena atra),
brown-banded antpitta (Grallaria milleri),
Kaempfer's tody-tyrant (Hemitriccus kaempferi),
ash-breasted tit-tyrant (Anairetes alpinus),
Peruvian plantcutter (Phytotoma raimondii),
St. Lucia forest thrush (Cichlherminia herminieri sanctaeluciae),
Eiao Polynesian warbler (Acrocephalus cafier aquilonis),
medium tree-finch (Camarhynchus pauper), and
cherry-throated tanager (Nemosia rourei).

YouTube Features Zoo Atlanta Keeper Attacked by Kangaroo

July 29, 2008  www.ajc.com   By LEON STAFFORD

GRANT PARK – Last Tuesday, Charlie, a 6 year old, 6 foot kangaroo grabbed a zookeeper as she was cleaning his exhibit.  The incident lasted about 10 seconds, but was caught on a camera phone and posted on YouTube. The video shows the zookeeper standing near Charlie as he grabs her neck and shoulder. The zookeeper, who is holding a shovel and other cleaning equipment, bounces back as Charlie hops to kick her in the legs a couple of times. A second zookeeper, who is standing nearby, intervenes by pulling off the animal's paws. Charlie then hops away to join the rest of the mob.  Neither the zookeeper nor Charlie were hurt, said Lisa Smith, curator of large animals. Charlie has been showing increased levels of aggression because his female partner, Luru, is ovulating.  Charlie is the breeding male of Zoo Atlanta's six kangaroos. He and Luru had a joey in January, and the young kangaroo just emerged from Luru's pouch over the last week, a signal that she is ready for breeding.  Smith said zookeepers will refrain from cleaning Charlie's exhibit area with him in it until after the breeding period has ended, which could be another four to five days. He will be lured inside the with his favorite snacks before the daily cleaning.

CITES Group Will Monitor Captive Tiger Farming

July 29, 2008  www.newkerala.com

NEW DELHI --  India has succeeded in persuading the Standing Committee of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species(CITES) to form a working group to monitor efforts to restrict captive tiger farming. “There was no way to know whether the tigers were being bred for trade in their parts or just to help in their conservation,'' said the head of the Indian delegation to CITES, M B lal.  China is the main country which has tiger breeding farms for commercial purposes, and there is a big market for medicines using tiger parts.  India argued that tiger farming will lead to greater poaching of wild animals as once farm-bred tiger parts are in market, it will be difficult to distinguish them from those of wild ones. It is estimated that China has 5000 captive tigers in its farms. Though China has banned the trade in tiger parts, it has the world’s largest illegal market for them.  India wants that the phasing-out process should include individual animal registration, development of a time-bound strategic plan to stop commercial breeding and disposal of stockpiles of tiger parts.

European Wild Cat Needs Network Of Corridors

July 29, 2008  www.sciencedaily.com 

For the first time an international researcher team has developed a model, which identifies potential habitats and corridors for the European wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris). BUND, the League for the Environment and Nature Conservation Germany (the German Branch of Friends of the Earth), intends to establish a network of corridors over the following years with the help of the German States. There are currently between 3000 and 5000 wildcats scattered throughout Germany. The nationwide corridors are an attempt to reconnect isolated populations once again and therefore open up new areas for the wildcat in the East of Germany. In Switzerland too, data on populations of wildcats is being collected and modelled, in order to be able to protect this species better in the future.  The European wildcat has managed to survive mainly in the forests of the Carpathian Mountains, the Balkans, Spain, and France and in the Central German Uplands. Owing to strict conservation measures they have been able to start spreading again slowly over recent decades in Central Europe. Nevertheless, the species is still threatened by the destruction and fragmentation of its habitat as well as through interbreeding with the domestic cat. Furthermore, their long nocturnal wanderings often mean that they become victims of increased road traffic.

First Census of Africa's 'kipunji' Monkey by WCS

July 29, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

NEW YORK  – Just three years after it was discovered, a new species of monkey is threatened with extinction according to the Wildlife Conservation Society.  The first census of the endangered "kipunji," found only 1,117 of the large, forest-dwelling primate.  The population estimate was the result of more than 2,800 hours of field work by WCS scientists in the Southern Highlands and Udzungwa Mountains in Tanzania where the kipunji was discovered. The team found that the monkey's range is restricted to just 6.82 square miles (17.69 square kilometers) of forest in two isolated regions.  Their study was published in the July issue of the journal Oryx.  "The kipunji is hanging on by the thinnest of threads," said Dr. Tim Davenport, Tanzania Country Director for the Wildlife Conservation Society. WCS is seeking an IUCN designation of “critically endangered” and is investing in the protection and restoration of the remaining habitat and conservation education of local people to help safeguard remaining populations.  The kipunji first made headlines in 2005 when a team of scientists led by WCS announced its discovery. Then in 2006, the monkey made news again when DNA analysis revealed that the species represented an entire new genus of primate—the first since 1923.

Parrot Disease Virus Indentified

July 29, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

SAN FRANCISCO – Proventricular Dilation Disease or PDD is a fatal disease that causes nervous system disorders in both domesticated and wild birds in the psittacine, or parrot, family worldwide. The disorder often leads to the birds' inability to swallow and digest food, with resulting wasting; many birds also suffer from imbalance and lack of coordination. Regardless of the clinical course the disease takes, it is often fatal. The disease has been found in 50 different species of parrots, as well as five other orders of birds, and is widely considered to be the greatest threat to captive breeding of birds in this family.  UCSF researchers, Joseph DeRisi and Don Ganem, have identified a virus behind the mysterious infectious disease and have also developed a diagnostic test for the virus which will enable veterinarians to control the spread of the virus.  Results of the study will be published in Virology Journal and will appear online in August. The findings also will be presented in full at the August 11 annual meeting of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, in Savannah, GA.  The new virus, which the team named Avian Bornavirus (ABV), is a member of the bornavirus family, whose other members cause encephalitis in horses and livestock. "These results clearly reveal the existence of an avian reservoir of remarkably diverse bornaviruses that are dramatically different from anything seen in other animals."  The discovery could aid both domesticated parrots and the conservation of endangered species such as the Spix's Macaw, currently one of the most endangered birds in the world, whose number has dwindled to roughly 100 worldwide and whose continued existence is threatened by PDD.

Analyzing Song of the Blue Whale

July 29, 2008  www.nytimes.com  

The calls have been steadily dropping in frequency for seven populations of blue whales around the world over the past 40 years, say researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and WhaleAcoustics, a private research company. The scientists analyzed data collected with hydrophones and other tools and found that the songs, which they believe are by males advertising for mates, had lowered by as much as 30 percent in certain populations. Much of the song lies at frequencies too low to be detected by the human ear.  Scientists cannot explain why blue whales from many different places (the northern Pacific and the Southern Ocean, which surrounds Antarctica), would drop the pitch of their songs. Each blue whale population has a distinct tempo and tone set to its vocals.  John Hildebrand, professor of oceanography at Scripps and an author of the study, said the drop might signal a rebound in the population of blue whales since commercial whaling bans began to take effect in the 1970s.  Scientists believe that only male blue whales sing. Female blue whales choose their mates based on size, a selection process that has fostered the species’ gargantuan proportions. And deeper might signal bigger.

Birds Fly North in Climate Change

July 30, 2008  www.enn.com   By Alister Doyle, Reuters

OSLO  - A study of 42 rare bird species in Britain showed that southern European bird species such as the Dartford warbler, Cirl bunting, little egret or Cetti's warbler had become more common in Britain from 1980-2004. And species usually found in northern Europe, such as the fieldfare, redwing or Slavonian grebe, had become less frequent in Britain.  "The species are almost certainly responding to the changing climate," said Brian Huntley, one of the authors of the report published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters. Birds and butterflies are among the first to adapt to climate change because they can fly long distances to seek a cooler habitat. Other creatures and plants can take far longer if their traditional range gets too warm.  The shifts in the birds' ranges since 1980 were also consistent with scientists' expectations because of global warming, blamed by the U.N. Climate Panel on human use of fossil fuels in power plants, factories and cars, he said. "This gives us greater confidence in the climate models we use for other groups of species -- butterflies, plants, reptiles and amphibians," Huntley said.

Hogle Zoo Holds First Teddy Bear Picnic

July 30, 2008  www.sltrib.com

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Utah's Hogle Zoo will hold its first Teddy Bear Picnic from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 9. Children who bring their own favorite stuffed bear to the zoo that day will get $2 off a regular child's admission ticket. The event will take place in the zoo's bear grotto, and will include a teddy bear puppet show, live music, free teddy "checkups" with the zoo's veterinary staff.  There will be a scrapbooking display table and lessons on the bears of the world. The zoo's own black bears will be involved in extra activities. Regular-priced Hogle Zoo admissions are $8 for adults, $6 for children ages 3 to 12, and free for children 2 and younger. As the famous song goes “Every bear that ever there was, will gather there for certain because” . . . two bucks off.

Mouse Sperm Cryopreservation Breakthrough

July 30, 2008  www.physorg.com

A team of Jackson Laboratory scientists have figured out a simple, cost-effective process to freeze mouse sperm and get it to achieve high fertilization rates with mouse eggs. Freezing sperm is an efficient, cost-effective way to conserve and distribute genetics in the agricultural industry and putting male sex cells on ice is a fundamental part of human fertility programs. But the sperm of certain varieties of mice under-achieve woefully after being frozen and thawed. Drs. Michael Wiles and Chuck Ostermeier have published a paper on the new technique in the open-access journal PLoS ONE : http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002792 .  The Jackson team reports that their technique consistently yields fertilization rates of about 70 percent – a six-fold increase over previous mouse sperm freezing techniques. The results were achieved by collecting the sperm into a cocktail of raffinose (a plant-based sugar complex), skim milk and the antioxidant monothioglycerol. The sperm suspension is loaded into narrow plastic straws about the size of a swizzle stick, and then slowly cooled before storage in liquid nitrogen.  When frozen sperm are needed for fertilization, they are thawed and incubated in in vitro fertilization media for an hour before adding oocyte cumulus masses (clusters of egg cells).

Evolution of Skull and Mandible Shape in Cats

July 30, 2008  www.physorg.com

The cat family comprises some of the most specialized carnivores in the history of mammals, all exclusively flesh-eating. The cat family consists of two major sub-groups: the feline cats (including all modern species) and the sabertoothed cats (which are all extinct). Skeletons from the two groups may look similar, but their skulls are often remarkably different, and suggest that members of the two groups underwent radically different adaptations to predation during the course of evolution.  New techniques for anatomical comparison using digital methods have facilitated a more detailed comparison of the anatomy of the entire skull and mandible, and the new results add significantly to our understanding of the evolution of the cat family.  Per Christiansen at the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, Denmark, reports the finding that the evolution of skull and mandible shape in sabercats and modern cats were governed by different selective forces, and the two groups evolved very different adaptations to killing in the journal PLoS ONE : http://www.plosone.org/doi/pone.0002807   

Endangered Species Permit Renewals

July 30, 2008  www.epa.gov

The  National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Commerce. have issued permit renewals to:
The Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Central Park to take green (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research.  The AMNH is authorized a 5-year research permit to study green and hawksbill sea turtles at the Palmyra Atoll in the Pacific Ocean. Researchers may capture by hand or net, examine, measure, photograph, flipper and Passive Integrated Transponder tag, blood sample, carapace sample, shell etch and paint, fecal sample, measure their temperature, and release up to 300 green and 100 hawkbill sea turtles annually. The purpose of this work is to assess the population biology and connectivity of green and hawksbill sea turtles focusing on distribution and abundance, ecology, health, threats to sea turtles as well as implications for their management and conservation. A subset of animals may be gastric lavaged or have transmitters affixed to the carapace before release. Additionally, researchers are authorized to collect the carcass, tissues and/or parts of encountered dead animals from 30 green and 10 hawksbill sea turtles annually.


The Southeast Fisheries Science Center (SEFSC), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Miami, Florida  has been issued a permit to take green (Chelonia mydas), loggerhead (Caretta caretta), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), olive ridley (Lepidochelys olivacea), leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea), and Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research. On February 7, 2006, notice was published in the Federal Register (71 FR 6272) that a request for scientific research permit to take sea turtles had been submitted by the above-named institution    The research will be conducted each year over the course of a five- year permit in coastal and inshore waters of the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean Sea (including embayments and tributaries). Turtles will be taken by harassment (e.g., aerial surveys) and direct capture (pound nets, entanglement/strike nets, seine nets, hoop nets, dipnets, cast nets, and by hand). Researchers will also access animals legally captured incidental to fishing activities  Researchers will conduct a variety sampling and tagging activities in order to collect biological and ecological information on these species that will help efforts to conserve them. 

USDA Extends Comment Period on Animal Transport Regulations

July 30, 2008  www.aphis.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) proposes to amend the Animal Welfare Act regulations by adding minimum age requirements for the transport in commerce of animals.   The regulations currently contain such requirements for dogs and cats, but no corresponding ones for other regulated animals, despite the risks associated with the early transport of these species.  We also propose to amend the regulations to allow, provided certain conditions are met, for animals to be transported without their mothers for medical treatment and for scientific research before reaching the minimum age and weaning requirement.  Establishing minimum age requirements for the transport in commerce of animals and providing for the transport of animals that have not met the minimum age requirements are necessary to help ensure the humane treatment of these animals.  This notice is scheduled for publication in July 31 Federal Register.  Consideration will be given to comments received on or before Sept. 2.  You may submit comments by either of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal:  http://www.regulations.gov/fdmspublic/component/main?main=DocketDetail&d=APHIS-2006-0024 to submit or view comments and to view supporting and related materials available electronically.
Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery:  Please send two copies of your comment to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0024, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8,   4700 River Road, Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737-1238.  Please state that your comment   refers to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0024.

Evolution of Snake Fangs

July 31, 2008  www.nature.com  By Vonk, et al.

Many advanced snakes use fangs—specialized teeth associated with a venom gland to introduce venom into prey or attacker. Fangs can occupy various positions on the upper jaw, but are always located on the maxilla and never on any other tooth-bearing bone. Viperidae (vipers and pit vipers), Atractaspis (Lamprophiidae, ) and Elapidae (cobras and their relatives) have tubular front fangs. The remaining lineages do not have front fangs, being either 'non-fanged' (no distinguishable enlarged posterior tooth) or rear-fanged.. Rear fangs can be solid or grooved, but are never tubular.  A fundamental controversy in snake evolution is whether front and rear fangs share the same evolutionary and developmental origin.  Researchers examined this issue by visualizing the tooth-forming epithelium in the upper jaw of 96 snake embryos, covering eight species and showed that front fangs develop from the posterior end of the upper jaw, and are strikingly similar in morphogenesis to rear fangs.  Recent molecular phylogenies of advanced snakes place the front-fanged Viperidae as relatively basal and the front-fanged Elapidae as more recently derived, the current evidence seems to support an 'independent-origin' hypothesis.  In light of our findings, we put forward a new model for the evolution of snake fangs: a posterior subregion of the tooth-forming epithelium became developmentally uncoupled from the remaining dentition, which allowed the posterior teeth to evolve independently and in close association with the venom gland, becoming highly modified in different lineages.

New Manta Ray Species Discovered

July 31, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com  By Brian Handwerk

What scientists call the manta ray is actually at least two distinct species with unique behaviors and lifestyles, a scientist announced recently.  The more commonly known manta ray is smaller and more easily seen, usually staying near coasts. Little is known about the larger species that avoids contact with humans and seems to have wider migration patterns. It also has evolutionary remnants of a spine and a harmless, nonstinging barb on its tail.  The two types—which are not yet named—also appear visually distinct, exhibiting unique colors and textures.  Andrea Marshall, a Ph.D candidate at Australia's University of Queensland, presented the findings last week in Montreal at a first-ever symposium of ray experts.

Revised Critical Habitat for Marbled Murrelet

July 31, 2008  www.epa.gov

The USFWS proposes to revise designated critical habitat for marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus marmoratus) On May 24, 1996, we designated 3,887,800 ac as critical habitat for the marbled murrelet in Washington, Oregon, and California. We are proposing to revise currently designated critical habitat for the marbled murrelet by removing approximately 254,070 ac in northern California and Oregon from the 1996 designation, based on new information indicating that these areas do not meet the definition of critical habitat. We are further proposing, a taxonomic revision of the scientific name of the marbled murrelet from Brachyramphus marmoratus marmoratus to Brachyramphus marmoratus.  We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before September 29, 2008. Submit comments to the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov  or US Mail to: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AW18; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov  For additional information contact: Michael Long, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521, telephone 707-822-7201, facsimile 707-822-8411. Maps of the proposed revised critical habitat are at http://www.fws.gov/westwafwo/  The final rule designating critical habitat for the marbled murrelet was published in the Federal Register on May 24, 1996 (61 FR 26256), and has been posted under the ``Supporting Documents'' section at http://www.regulations.gov

New Government Regulation on Endangered Wildlife

July 31, 2008   www.epa.gov  

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), announce the availability of guidance to promote implementation of the Endangered Species Act. The guidance describes a crediting framework for Federal agencies in carrying out recovery measures for threatened and endangered species. The text of the guidance is included in this notice. Under the guidance, Federal agencies may show how adverse effects of agency activities to a listed species are offset by beneficial effects of actions taken elsewhere for that species. The combined effects of the adverse and beneficial actions must provide a net benefit to the recovery of the species.  The guidance may be downloaded from our Web site at http://www.fws.gov/endangered/policy/june.2008.html  To request a copy of the guidance, write to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 420 ARLSQ, Washington, DC 20240, Attention: Recovery Crediting; or call 703-358-2171. You may also send an e-mail request to crediting@fws.gov. Specify whether you wish to receive a hard copy by U.S. mail or an electronic copy by e-mail.  Direct all questions or requests for additional information about the guidance to Dr. Richard Sayers, Division of Consultation, Habitat Conservation Planning, Recovery, and State Grants, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 420 ARLSQ, Washington, DC 20240

Effective recovery planning and implementation depend in part on creative processes and agreements with Federal partners as well as other non-Federal partners in community-based recovery efforts. Examples of innovative conservation tools under the ESA include safe harbor agreements, habitat conservation plans, recovery permits, and conservation banks. The ultimate success of conservation and recovery of endangered and threatened species depends on a variety of innovations, such as these, that may be used in concert with one another or alone. We expect recovery credit systems (RCS) to complement them further. A recovery crediting system can allow a Federal agency to accrue credit for recovery actions in advance of effects resulting from any specific action that causes adverse effects. We expect this process to increase incentives for Federal agencies to use their authorities to further the purposes of the ESA.
The Service recognizes that recovery crediting is a particular mechanism within the broad concept of habitat credit trading. The Service may expand other types of crediting to entities other than Federal agencies or employ additional methods for Federal agencies. That is, we may be able to use credits as a measure of the benefit of recovery actions taken on Federal lands, and we may consider other credit trading systems, including conservation banks, for landowners who take recovery actions on their own land or other private lands. However, the guidance being adopted herein applies only for Federal agencies to accrue credits on non-Federal lands.

Orangutan Drowns at Hamburg Zoo

July 31, 2008  ap.google.com

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Zoo officials in Hamburg say their 10-year-old orangutan drowned after falling into a moat while trying to grab bread thrown in by a visitor.  The orangutan named Leila fell into the water in her zoo enclosure on Wednesday and died even though zookeepers got to her quickly.  Head zookeeper Walter Wolters said there are many signs warning visitors not to feed the animals. The zoo is now putting up even bigger signs as a precaution.

Simian Foamy Virus Found in Asian Primate Workers

July 31, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

A research team led by University of Washington scientists has found that several people in South and Southeast Asian countries working and living around monkeys have been infected with simian foamy virus (SFV), a primate virus that, to date, has not been shown to cause human disease. The findings provide more evidence that Asia, where interaction between people and monkeys is common and widespread, could be an important setting for future primate-to-human viral transmission. The study appears in the August issue of the journal Emerging Infectious Disease.  Though SFV has not been found to cause any human disease, it is a slow-acting retrovirus, so it could take many years before scientists determine the effects of infection. SFV could also change at the genetic level, resulting in a new strain of the virus that would affect humans. Scientists believe that a similar process occurred with HIV, which probably originated as a virus in non-human primates in Africa before jumping the species barrier to human hosts.

In this study, researchers from the University of Washington visited several countries in Asia, interviewing and testing about 300 people who live or work closely with any one of several species of small-bodied monkeys called macaques. Eight of those participants tested positive for SFV.  "This is a heterogeneous sample – subjects reported contact with primates in a variety of contexts," explained Gregory Engel, who is also a physician at Swedish Medical Center in Seattle. "It seems that some of these contexts are going to be very important, but they haven't been studied much. Zoo workers and bush meat hunters have been typically considered at the highest risk for viral transmission, but none of the zoo workers or hunters in our sample tested positive for SFV."

Zookeeper Bitten by Snake at Brevard Zoo

July 31, 2008  www.wftv.com

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. -- A Brevard Zoo worker was attacked by a 5-foot snake Thursday in front of a classroom full of kids. She was bitten in the neck by a boa constrictor, an unusual attack for that type of snake.  Rose, the 5-foot long boa constrictor, lashed out, nicking her in the neck.  Staff said the bite wasn't a particularly serious injury, but colleagues still called for an ambulance. Boa constrictors don't typically use their teeth to go after their prey and their teeth are relatively small.  "It had more to do with her being lightheaded about 15 minutes after it happened," said Andrea Hill, Brevard Zoo.  Zoo staff said the woman was showing the 13-year-old snake to young kids at a zoo day camp and was putting it back in the case when it bit her. Zoo staff are trying to determine what, if anything, might have provoked the snake to strike. One thing they are looking into is whether the woman handled any rodents before she held onto the snake or whether a loud noise may have spooked the animal.

Dolphin Calf Born at Baltimore Aquarium

July 31, 2008  www.physorg.com    By CHRISSIE THOMPSON

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- After a normal, tail-first delivery, a healthy female dolphin was born at the National Aquarium in Baltimore - taking its first breath after only five seconds of life. The Atlantic bottlenose calf was born Sunday morning to 16-year-old Chesapeake. The new calf's grandmother, 29-year-old Shiloh, gave birth to a stillborn calf at the aquarium earlier this month. The new calf, which measures two to three feet in length and weighs about 30 pounds, is nursing regularly, bonding with its mother and gaining weight. Aquarium staff members are "cautiously optimistic" about its survival, said Allison Ginsburg-Kimmey, the aquarium's manager of dolphin training. One-third of all dolphin calves do not survive the first year.  Chesapeake, the first calf born at the aquarium, has given birth to two calves, including one that died in 2004. Her care will primarily determine whether the new calf lives, but she has help: Shiloh is helping to nurse the calf.

Creating a Global Geological Map for the Internet

July 31, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Earth and computer scientists from 79 nations are working together on a global project called OneGeology to produce the first digital geological map of the world.  The project is supported by UNESCO and six other international umbrella bodies and is the flagship project for UN International Year of Planet Earth 2008. The key results of this project are:
   1. Geological maps from around the globe accessible on the World Wide Web;
   2. A new web language has been written for geology which allows nations to share data with each other and the public;
   3. The know-how to do this is being exchanged so that all nations across the world, regardless of their development status, can take part and benefit. 
Ian Jackson, Chief of Operations at the British Geological Survey, is coordinating OneGeology "Geological maps are essential tools in finding natural resources e.g. water, hydrocarbons and minerals, and when planning to mitigate geohazards e.g. earthquakes, volcanoes and radon. Natural resources are a crucial source of wealth for all nations, especially those that need to develop and build their economies. Identifying geohazards is often a matter of life or death. Other challenges facing all nations in the 21st century include rising sea levels, management of waste (nuclear or domestic) and storage of carbon. Knowledge of the rocks that we all live on has become increasingly important and sharing that knowledge at a time of global environmental change is crucial".

Squid Hearing Study

July 31, 2008  www.enn.com 

This summer at the Marine Biology Laboratories, zoologist T. Aran Mooney will be the first scientist to look at cephalopod hearing, using the squid, Loligo pealeii, as a model. To learn how sensitive the translucent animals are to noise, he is monitoring squid brain waves as they respond to various sounds, specifically the echolocation clicks of its main predators: the sperm whale, beaked whale, and dolphin. In addition to the brain wave experiments, he also plans to condition squid to avoid certain sounds.  “Sound is one of the most important cues for marine animals. Light doesn't travel well through the ocean. Sound does much better,” says Mooney. He predicts that squid probably hear very low-frequency sounds, which means they pick up on fish tones and boat traffic. A better understanding of what these animals hear could reveal how human-induced noise affects cephalopods and how their auditory system evolved separately from that of fish.

Ivory Poaching at Critical Levels

August 1, 2008  www.enn.com

African elephants are being slaughtered for their ivory at a pace unseen since an international ban on the ivory trade took effect in 1989. The elephant death rate from poaching throughout Africa is about 8 percent a year based on recent studies, which is actually higher than the 7.4 percent annual death rate that led to the international ivory trade ban nearly 20 years ago, said Samuel Wasser, a U of Washington biology professor.  But the poaching death rate in the late 1980s was based on a population that numbered more than 1 million. Today the total African elephant population is less than 470,000. Wasser. is the lead author of a paper in the August issue of Conservation Biology that contends elephants are on a course that could mean most remaining large groups will be extinct by 2020 unless renewed public pressure brings about heightened enforcement.  Co-authors are William Clark of the Interpol Working Group on Wildlife Crime and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority, Ofir Drori of the Last Great Ape Organization in Cameroon, Emily Kisamo of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force in Kenya, Celia Mailand of the UW, Benezeth Mutayoba of Sokoine University in Tanzania and Matthew Stephens of the University of Chicago.

Wasser's laboratory developed DNA tools that can determine which elephant population contraband ivory comes from. Poachers attack elephants in one country but ship the ivory from an adjacent nation to throw off law enforcement.  6.5 tons of ivory seized in Singapore in 2002 was shipped from Malawi, but DNA tracking showed the ivory came from Zambia. Similarly, a 2006 shipment of 3.9 tons seized in Hong Kong had been sent from Cameroon, but DNA forensics showed it came from an area in Gabon.  Recent evidence shows that seized ivory is not coming from a broad geographic area but that hunters are targeting specific herds. With such information, Wasser said, authorities can beef up enforcement efforts and focus them in specific areas where poaching is known to occur.  Poachers were killing an average of 70,000 elephants a year In 1989, when CITES banned most international ivory trade. The restrictions made an exception for ivory from nations that legally culled elephants from their herds or those that died naturally. The ban instigated much stronger enforcement efforts, nearly halting poaching almost immediately. However, that sense of success resulted in waning enforcement. Western aid was withdrawn four years after the ban was enacted and poaching gradually increased to the current alarming rates, Wasser said. "The situation is worse than ever before and the public is unaware," he said, "It's very serious because elephants are an incredibly important species. They keep habitats open so other species that depend on such ecosystems can use them. Without elephants, there will be major habitat changes, with negative effects on the many species that depend on the lost habitat. "Elephants also are a major part of ecotourism, which is an important source of hard currency for many African countries."

The illegal ivory trade is being carried out mostly by large crime syndicates, Wasser believes, and is being driven by growing markets in China and Japan, where ivory is in demand for carvings and signature stamps called hankos. In addition, in the last few years demand has risen sharply in the United States, where much of the ivory is used to make knife handles and gun grips. In fact, a May report from the Care for the Wild International, a not-for-profit British natural protection organization, ranks the U.S. second behind China as a marketplace for illegal ivory. But the illegal ivory trade has gotten relatively low priority from prosecutors, and new laws promoting global trade have created "a policing nightmare," Wasser says, which makes ivory poaching a high-profit, low-risk endeavor. The only way to curb the trade, he believes, is to focus enforcement in areas where the ivory comes from in the first place, before it enters the complex, global crime trade network. Public support is crucial to helping reduce demand and to spur the needed enforcement help from the West.

New Board Chairman for Philadelphia Zoo

August 1, 2008   www.bizjournals.com

Morgan Lewis & Bockius partner Jay H. Calvert, Jr. has been elected to succeed Peter G. Gould as chairman of the board of the Philadelphia Zoo. He had previously served as vice chairman. Gould will continue to serve as a board member.  Calvert is an avid conservationist who has championed heritage-breed animals and is a member of the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.  He has been associated with the Philadelphia Zoo for more than 16 years.

Przewalski’s Horse Born at Minnesota Zoo

August 1, 2008  www.startribune.com By PAUL WALSH, Star Tribune

The Minnesota Zoo is celebrating a significant conservation accomplishment with the birth of its first Przewalski’s horse since 1988.  Born July 5, the horse is a descendant of an imported stallion from the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., and a female from Germany. He is very important genetically to the Species Survival Plan (SSP) population.  The Minnesota Zoo sent a stallion to the Netherlands in 1990, which produced six offspring for release in Hustai Nuruu National Park in Mongolia. These offspring continue to produce offspring of their own. At last count, there were two harems directly descended from the Minnesota Zoo's stallion that were still living in the wild. In 2004, the zoo supported the park financially so it could buy motor bikes, allowing the rangers to patrol the park and protect the horses. In 2006, the Zoo supported a radio-collar tracking project coordinated by the National Zoo in Kalameili Reserve, China. The next move is to have the Asian wild horses released into this park.

Necropsy Report on S.F. Giraffe is Inconclusive

August 1, 2008  www.sfgate.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- The 9-year-old giraffe that died Tuesday at the San Francisco Zoo was pregnant, officials said Wednesday.  A necropsy showed that Gezi, who had already given birth to two calves at the zoo, was in her first trimester.  The zoo’s one male giraffe, Floyd, was the sire.  Further tests will be needed to confirm the cause of death, but officials said that the necropsy showed several problems, including enlarged lymph nodes, inflammation within the giraffe's gastrointestinal tract and more than 100 black masses throughout the body.  Gezi, who gave birth to a female calf in February, collapsed at 12:15 p.m. Tuesday, suffering from cardiac and respiratory arrest. Zoo staff had been monitoring the giraffe after her keepers noticed over the weekend that she had a decreased appetite. Veterinary staff conducted blood tests, which came back normal, and gave her antibiotics and fluids.

Oregon Zoo Modifies Animal Show

August 1, 2008   www.katu.com

Oregon Zoo's "Wild Life Live" show no longer features flying birds, as construction noise from their new “Predators of the Serengeti”  exhibit was confusing them.  Because the birds of prey can no longer fly, the "Wild Life Live" program has added charismatic animals such as a prehensile-tailed porcupine and a green-wing macaw, allowing visitors an up-close view of seldom-seen creatures. Zoo staff will display a variety of animals during the half-hour educational demonstrations. "Wild Life Live," is presented by PGE, runs daily through Labor Day, at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. PGE has supported the program since 1986.  The birds will be back when the exhibit is complete in 2009

Sacramento Zoo Breeds Black & White Lemurs

August 1, 2008  www.sacbee.com   By Bill Lindelof

For the third year in a row, the breeding pair of lemurs at the Sacramento Zoo have produced offspring.  "We are fortunate to have these multiple sibling generations interacting on exhibit," said Leslie Field, the lead keeper overseeing primates.  The youngest black and whites went on exhibit recently, about two months after their May 4 birth. The latest arrivals eat fruit and vegetables, but they also are nursing.  When born, they were about the size of a rat, but adult black and white ruffed lemurs are among the largest of lemurs, topping out at 10 pounds. Black and white lemurs are one of the few primates to be reintroduced into the wild.  The first attempt occurred in 1997, when five captive-born ruffed lemurs were released into the Betampona Nature Reserve in eastern Madagascar.  The lemurs had lived their lives at the Duke University Lemur Center, the leading lemur research facility in the United States. Since then, two more groups of captive lemurs have been reintroduced, according to the center's Web site. The Zoo’s breeding pair produced offspring three years in a row – two males two years ago, a male last year and a female and two males this year. The Sacramento Zoo is in partnership with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Ruffed Lemur Species Survival Plan, the Madagascar Fauna Group and the Malagasy government to breed ruffed lemurs in captivity and educate the public on how to help wild lemurs.

Audubon’s Incredible New Insectarium 

August 2, 2009  www.nytimes.com  By EDWARD ROTHSTEIN

NEW ORLEANS — Audubon’s $25 million Insectarium, opened in June.  The 23,000-square-foot facility occupies a section of the United States Custom House and was created by the Audubon Nature Institute, a nonprofit group that also runs a local aquarium, park and zoo (no relationship to the National Audubon Society).  The Insectarium also incorporates arthropods (900,000 known species such as insects, spiders, centipedes, millipedes and crustaceans) and annelids (segmented worms).  Every animal seen — from a mounted 19- inch-long stick insect from the Malay Peninsula to a live black atlas beetle that crawls inside a transparent table in the museum café -- is amazing, unsettling, amusing or a combination of all three.  You can watch Formosan termites eat through a wooden skyline of New Orleans, stick your head into a transparent dome in a kitchen closet swarming with giant cockroaches and watch dung beetles plow through waste.  Visitors learn that a cockroach can survive for weeks without its head, and that millipedes secrete a foul-smelling liquid that you can touch, or that one of every four species on this planet is a form of beetle.  An exhibit about the insects of New Orleans discusses the splattered bugs that coat cars in the mating months of May and September, and explains how the city’s history was scarred by diseases carried by uncontrolled mosquitoes. The Termite Gallery is meant to frighten: the Formosan subterranean termite causes $1 billion in damage a year and has been the object of a federally financed war since 1998. Terminix donated $2 million to the Insectarium, and other pest-control sponsors include BASF/Termidor and Dow AgroSciences. A Terminix spokesman said they want to encourage not only a love of bugs but a healthy respect for their dangers and an interest in eliminating them where they shouldn’t be.  The Underground Gallery, is meant to shrink the visitor to bug size: you step onto dark, spongy loam in an underground passage, and see lunging spiders, glaring worms, strange beetles mounted on granules of soil. But there is no need for this simulation to get a sense of these creatures.  The museum also includes a comic animated film about insects — a mock television awards show, screened in a theater complete with vibrating seats and puffs of air. Its surprising that though there are insect museums in Philadelphia and New Jersey — and a major insectarium in Montreal — smartly done spectacles like this one have not caught on in other metropolitan areas.

Insects dominate the planet’s biomass (90 percent of the world’s species), and seem to violate all common presuppositions about life forms. This weirdness makes them at once frightening and enticing.  Some survive for only days, though larvae of one wood-boring beetle have lived for 51 years, while fossils display insects that existed a hundred million years ago. Moreover, many of these animals, lacking even the most rudimentary signs of reason, coalesce into stupefyingly intelligent hives and colonies.  The museum’s Hall of Fame Gallery features beetles pinned in fanciful arrays, but the artifice works: you gape at their elaborate coloration and the delicacy that undercuts their apparent savageness. The Insectarium inspires the double visions of respect and fear, amazement and shock, fascination and disgust.  All are woven throughout the exhibits.  Can you imagine eating roasted lion at a zoo or filleted dolphin at an aquarium? Of course not, but here the admired creatures are served in elaborate dips and sautéed dishes. Photographs on the cafeteria wall display delicacies more familiar in non-Western countries: deep-fried giant waterbugs from northern Thailand, water beetles marinated in ginger and soy sauce from the Guangzhou Province in China. But chocolate chirp cookies (with crickets) and dragonflies sautéed with mushrooms can be sampled a few yards away. Even in the regular section of the café, tabletops are transparent display cases: if you shun arthropods for lunch, you can eat more typical animal-based dishes while watching a giant beetle crawl underneath your meal.  Then you can munch on a handful of crunchy Cajun-fried crickets or scoop up some wax-worm stir fry. Visitors of all ages keep lining up for seconds at the Bug Appétit buffet, situated just behind the museum’s Tiny Termite Café.  The Audubon Insectarium is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays, and some 2,000 visitors have come each weekend day since the institution’s opening.

Rare Shark Stolen from London Aquarium

August 3, 2008  www.deeperblue.net  By Sara-Lise Haith

LONDON -- A 2ft long, mottled brown, marble catshark -- Atelomycterus Macleayi , imported from Indonesia four years ago was stolen from a London aquarium.  It is the female half of the only active breeding pair of its kind in Britain.  Aquarium owner Peter Newman said that as a breeding pair, the male and female are worth 50,000 pounds, and a solitary female worth possibly 10,000 pounds.  Since its arrival in England, the stolen shark has apparently survived accidental electrocution after a crab bit through a power cable, just before giving birth to six baby sharks earlier this year.

Giant Panda Birthday at San Diego Zoo

August 3, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com 

SAN DIEGO - In celebration of giant panda Zhen Zhen’s (pronounced jun jun) first birthday) and her sister Su Lin’s third birthday, San Diego Zoo animal care staff arranged for cake and presents in their exhibits. Each girl received a tiered ice-cake with treats frozen inside and a honey glaze on the outside. They also received gift boxes painted by children in the Zoo’s summer camps. “Both of these girls are just fun to watch,” said Lisa Bryant, San Diego Zoo lead keeper. “They really enjoy receiving ice treats and working around the ice to get to the carrots, apples and bamboo inside. The challenge of opening the gift boxes and seeking out food inside is similar to the foraging they would do in their native habitat in China.”  Zhen Zhen’s first birthday is a significant step in the maturation process of a panda: she is beginning to eat solid foods, including leafy bamboo, and reduce the amount of nursing with her mother, Bai Yun. A panda is typically weaned at 18 months old. At 3 years old, Su Lin is a sub-adult panda and completely independent from Bai Yun. The third birthday is a significant milestone for giant pandas on loan from the People’s Republic of China. When the Zoo’s pandas reach this age, the Zoo is notified of the panda’s next destination. Su Lin will be full-grown when she is 4 years old and can begin mating as early as 5 years old.  The Union Tribunes Panda Party Gallery is at: http://photos.signonsandiego.com/gallery1.5/080803pandas

Bai Yun is 16 years old and has given birth to four cubs at the San Diego Zoo. The first cub, Hua Mei was born Aug. 21, 1999, and has the distinction of being the first surviving giant panda ever born in the United States. The second cub, Mei Sheng, was born Aug. 19, 2003. Both Hua Mei and Mei Sheng have since returned to China, where Hua Mei has contributed to the conservation of the species by giving birth to three sets of twins. Su Lin and Zhen Zhen were born Aug. 2, 2005 and Aug. 3, 2007, respectively.  Zhen Zhen and Su Lin’s father, Gao Gao, also resides at the San Diego Zoo and takes turns with Su Lin spending time in the exhibit.

IUCN Report on Primates

August 4, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Edinburgh, Scotland – The first comprehensive review in five years of the world's 634 kinds of primates found that almost 50 percent are in danger of going extinct, according to the criteria of the IUCN Red List.  The review was funded by CI, the Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, Disney's Animal Kingdom and the IUCN and will be released in its entirety at the 4th IUCN World Conservation Congress in Barcelona in October.  The report on primates was issued at the 22nd  International Primatological Society Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, and confirmed that in Asia, more than 70 percent of primates are classified on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, Endangered or Critically Endangered – meaning they could disappear forever in the near future.  The main threats are habitat destruction, particularly from the burning and clearing of tropical forests that also emits at least 20 percent of the global greenhouse gases causing climate change, and the hunting of primates for food and an illegal wildlife trade according to Russell A. Mittermeier, president of Conservation International (CI) and the longtime chairman of the IUCN Species  Survival Commission's Primate Specialist Group.  In both Vietnam and Cambodia, approximately 90 percent of primate species are considered at risk of extinction. Populations of gibbons, leaf monkeys, langurs and other species have dwindled due to rampant habitat loss exacerbated by hunting for food and to supply the wildlife trade in traditional Chinese medicine and pets.  In Africa, 11 of the 13 kinds of red colobus monkeys assessed were listed as Critically Endangered  or Endangered. Two may already be extinct: Bouvier's red colobus (Procolobus pennantii bouvieri) has not been seen in 25 years, and no living Miss Waldron's red colobus (Procolobus badius waldroni) has been seen by a primatologist since 1978, despite occasional reports that some still survive.

Meanwhile, scientists continue to learn more about primates and their role in the world. Since 2000, 53 species of primates previously unknown to science have been described – 40 from Madagascar, two from Africa, three from Asia and eight from Central and South America. In 2007, researchers found a long-rumored population of Critically Endangered greater bamboo lemurs (Prolemur simus) in a wetland 400 kilometers (240 miles) from the only other known home of the species. In total, the species numbers about 140 individuals in the wild.  The IUCN Red List sets a series of criteria for a species to be categorized as threatened. In cases lacking the necessary information, the species can be listed as Data Deficient, which applied to nearly 15 percent of the primates in the new review. Many of those species, particularly newly discovered ones, are expected to eventually be classified as threatened. Despite the gloomy assessment, conservationists point to a notable success in helping targeted species recover. In Brazil, the black lion tamarin (Leontopithecus chrysopygus) was downlisted to Endangered from Critically Endangered, as was the golden lion tamarin (Leontopithecus rosalia) in 2003, as a result of three decades of conservation efforts involving numerous institutions. Populations of both animals are now well-protected but remain very small, causing an urgent need for reforestation to provide new habitat for their long-term survival. "If you have forests, you can save primates," said CI scientist Anthony Rylands, the deputy chair of the IUCN Primate Specialist Group. "The work with lion tamarins shows that conserving forest fragments and reforesting to create corridors that connect them is not only vital for primates, but offers the multiple benefits of maintaining healthy ecosystems and water supplies while reducing greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change." Researchers also considered reclassifying the mountain gorilla (Gorilla beringei beringei) to Endangered from Critically Endangered due to increasing populations in their only habitat – the protected mountain jungles of Rwanda, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. However, the slayings of eight mountain gorillas in 2007 and continuing political turmoil in the region delayed the planned reclassification.

USDA Safety Review of Wildlife Damage Mgmt Program

August 4, 2008   www.aphis.usda.gov

WASHINGTON --The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has released a safety review of its Wildlife Services (WS) program.  The review, conducted by outside subject-matter experts, looked at nine areas within the WS program, including aviation, explosives and pyrotechnics, firearms, hazardous materials, immobilization and euthanasia, pesticides, vehicles, watercraft and zoonotic diseases. The review found that WS safety procedures are extremely effective in protecting the health of its employees, as well as the fact that the program has a successful safety record given the work performed by employees. The complete report entitled Wildlife Services Program Safety Review:  Evaluation of Current Safety Program and Identification of Safety Improvements can be accessed on-line at www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage .

Lowry Park Zoo Tests Solar Energy Rsource

August 4, 2008  www.bizjournals.com/ 

Tampa Electric, the University of South Florida and Lowry Park Zoo will partner on a project to develop, design and test a renewable solar energy system at the zoo.  Funded in part by a grant from the Florida High Tech Corridor, the project will cost about $575,000, a release said.  Solar panels and educational displays will be installed at the Tampa zoo’s Skyfari sky ride entrance. The project will be able to generate enough clean energy to power the ride and will be connected to the electric grid through the zoo’s main power system. The project also will examine ways to strengthen the electric grid and allow more than 1 million annual zoo visitors to find out more about solar power and encourage its use, the release said.

Python Stolen from Saskatoon zoo

August 4, 2008  canadianpress.google.com

SASKATOON — Staff Sgt. Lyle Schmidt said there was a commotion at the Forestry Farm Park and Zoo on Saturday afternoon when someone claimed that a snake was being taken away in a car.  Staff at the zoo noticed that the mesh at the top of a glass enclosure containing a popular python named Tickles had been pushed in and the snake was gone.  The snake weighs about five kilograms, and is black with yellow, gold and brown markings. "Tickles is quite gentle," Schmidt said. "He just ate, so he should be good for a week." The snake is 8-10 years old, weighs between 10 and 12 pounds and is roughly five feet in length.

Geothermal Cooling for Seattle Zoo Penguin Exhibit

August 4, 2008  www.tri-cityherald.com

SEATTLE The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle plans to cool a new penguin exhibit with a geothermal system.  Although it costs more to install, the system is expected to save money over the 20-year life of the exhibit.  Geothermal heating and cooling systems tap the constant underground temperature - about 50 degrees in the Puget Sound region. Heat is exchanged through underground pipes. One company that installs geothermal systems, Earthheat of Duvall, says it has 75 installations this year, compared to about 50 last year due to increasing energy costs.

Nashville Zoo Raises Rhinoceros Hornbill

August 4, 2008  www.knoxnews.com

NASHVILLE — Avian keepers at the Nashville Zoo are hand raising the first rhinoceros hornbill chick born there.  Avian Curator Joe DeGraauw said the term “eats like a bird” doesn’t apply, noting the chick eats half its body weight each day in fruit and crickets and is fed four times per day.  Keepers took the egg from the mother 12 days after it was laid and artificially incubated it. The bird was born on May 30.  The species, native to southeastern Asia, is not under imminent threat, but as the captive population ages, fewer chicks are born, making the recently born bird a genetically valuable contribution to the mating pool.

Great White Shark’s Bite Analyzed

August 4, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Shark researchers from the University of New South Wales, Newcastle University, NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries (Australia) and University of California (USA) reveal unprecedented information about the feeding habits of the great white shark and its gigantic extinct relative Carcharodon megalodon  by analysing anatomical and biomechanical data from their skull and muscle tissues with computer modeling techniques.  They generated 3-Dimensional models the skull of a 2.4-metre male great white shark on the basis of multiple x-ray images generated by a computerized tomography (CT) scanner.  The team reconstructed the great white's skull, jaws and muscles, remodelling them as hundreds of thousands of tiny discrete, but connected parts. It was found that the largest great whites have a bite force of up to 1.8 tonnes. By comparison, a large African lion can produce around 560 kg of bite force and a human approximately 80 kg – making the great white's bite more than 20 times harder than that of a human. UNSW's Steve Wroe, the study's lead author, says the great white is without a doubt one of the hardest biting creatures alive, possibly the hardest. "Pound for pound the great whites' bite is not particularly impressive, but the sheer size of the animal means that in absolute terms it tops the scales. It must also be remembered that its extremely sharp serrated teeth require relatively little force to drive them through thick skin, fat and muscle". The scientists also found that although shark's jaws are comprised of elastic cartilage (as opposed to the bony jaws of most other fish), this did not greatly reduce the power of its bite.

Saving Bees

August 4, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

There are about 30,000 bee species worldwide and more than half of the world’s flowering plants rely on bees for pollination.  A recent unexplained decline in bee populations across the U.S. and Europe has placed the health of ecosystems and the sustainability of crops in peril.  An oral session at the Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America, an interdisciplinary group of scientists will explore the problem of bee habitat loss at a broad scale to determine what can be done. The session, titled "The Landscape-Scale Ecology of Pollinators and Pollination," will include scientists in the fields of computer science, mathematics and ecology from institutions in the U.S., Europe and Asia.  The bee decline is particularly unnerving for farmers because an estimated 80 percent of all food crops are pollinated by honeybees and their wild cousins. Stymied scientists have proposed a host of reasons for managed honeybee declines, including climate change, parasites, diseases, overexposure to pesticides and loss of suitable habitat; most researchers believe that a combination of these factors is responsible.  For more information about this session and other ESA Annual Meeting activities, visit http://www.esa.org/milwaukee. The theme of the meeting is "Enhancing Ecological Thought by Linking Research and Education." More than 3,500 scientists are expected to attend.

New Western Gorilla Population Found in Africa

August 5, 2008  www.nytimes.com  By ANDREW C. REVKIN

A survey in the northern Congo Republic by the Wildlife Conservation Society has revealed the presence of more than 125,000 western lowland gorillas.  As recently as last year, this subspecies  was listed as critically endangered  because known populations —  estimated at less than 100,000 in the 1980s — had been devastated by hunting and outbreaks of Ebola virus. The three other subspecies are either critically endangered or endangered.  The findings will be presented Tuesday at a meeting of the International Primatological Society in Edinburgh. Richard G. Ruggerio, a conservation biologist at USFWS cautioned that the large gorilla populations in the two studied tracts, which cover 18,000 square miles, should not lead to complacency.   The continuing threat of Ebola will not change in the gorilla’s status, and a separate global update on primates, also being issued Tuesday shows  that — with a few exceptions — forest destruction and, increasingly, hunting for meat, pets and Chinese medicinal products are threatening primates, from Congo Republic to Cambodia.  In Vietnam and Cambodia, 90 percent of primates —  including gibbons, leaf monkeys and langurs — are considered at risk according to the IUCN, which issued the update with Conservation International.  “What is happening in Southeast Asia is terrifying,” said Jean-Christophe Vié, deputy chief of the group’s species program.  The lowland gorillas discovered in the Congo Republic survey are secure for now, but pressures are growing in central Africa as international demand builds for tropical hardwood and other resources. The government of Congo Republic has granted national park status to one of the studied regions, Ntokou-Pikounda, which is estimated to hold 73,000 gorillas. But there is little money for staff or operations, conservation society officials said.  Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, the president of the WCS said the situation for the surveyed gorillas in Congo Republic appears promising. Along with the park plans, some logging companies that sell lumber certified as responsibly harvested are working with WCS and the government to adjust practices in ways that preserve habitat and limit meat hunting.

Global Warming Impacts New England Aquariums

August 5, 2008  www.nytimes.com  By BINA VENKATARAMAN

SOUTHAMPTON, N.Y. — From July to late October, the Gulf Stream carries young, dime-size reef dwellers from tropical waters near the Florida Keys and the western Bahamas, and abandons them along the coastline of Long Island. Taking a cue from deep-sea fishermen who  track Atlantic Ocean currents, aquariums in the Northeast have recently started to collect more — and more kinds — of the tropical fish in nearby waters. Catching these "orphans" or "strays" up north is cheaper and less disruptive to ocean ecosystems than trapping them in the tropics. And the collections are rescue missions of a sort, because these Gulf Stream travelers are unlikely to survive the winter.  Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, N.Y.,  the New England  Aquarium in Boston and the Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut, have been catching fish abandoned by the Gulf Stream to some extent for decades, but recently the aquariums have started to collect them in greater numbers, representing a bigger portion of the fish they put on display. Scientists do not know why the fish numbers seem to have increased. But some species that are vulnerable to cold shock, like the Atlantic croaker, appear to be expanding their range and ability to survive in the Northeast because of climate change, said Kenneth W. Able, a professor at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University and the director of the university's Marine Field Station.  What scientists do know is that each summer the Gulf Stream carries millions of larval and newborn tropical fish bred in warm Caribbean waters and deposits them sporadically in rocky coves and eelgrass beds off the Northeast coast. The Gulf Stream travels like a meandering river, pulling ocean water from the Gulf of Mexico along the Eastern Seaboard and toward Britain. Whirlpools of warm water the size of multiple city blocks spin off from the current’s 
northern front and sweep toward the shore, taking tropical fish with them.  Long Island, with its arm that juts into the Atlantic, catches the fish on its south shore. Aquariums as far south as Baltimore travel here to replenish their exhibits.  About 10 percent of the 700 animals — and about 8 percent of the species — in the New England Aquarium’s 200,000-gallon Caribbean reef tank are Gulf Stream orphans. The aquarium expects to increase that share to about 25 percent over the next few years, Mr. Nelson said. Atlantis Marine World plans to keep up its current pace of collecting tropical strays, but has not kept track of what percentage of its fish come from nearby waters.  Bill Murphy, a New England Aquarium biologist, said that when the aquarium introduced orphan needlefish in its largest tank a few years ago, a barracuda began eating them. Divers had to chase the barracuda around the tank and feed it extra food for days to give the needlefish time to learn to avoid the hunt. “You have to remember that when you collect fish that are this small, they lack life experience,” Mr. Murphy said. “It’s a learning process for all of us.”

Critical Habitat for Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep and Taxonomic Revision

August 5, 2008  www.epa.gov

Effective September 4, 2008, the USFWS is designating critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis sierrae) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). In total, approximately 417,577 acres (ac) (168,992 hectares (ha)) fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. The critical habitat is located in Tuolumne, Mono, Fresno, Inyo, and Tulare Counties, California. We also are finalizing the revision of taxonomy of the listed entity from a distinct population segment (DPS) of California bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis californiana) to subspecies, Ovis canadensis sierrae, based on recent published information.  The final rule, economic analysis, and maps are available at http://www.regulations.gov and at http://www.fws.gov/nevada  Supporting documentation we used in the preparation of this final rule is available for public inspection, from the Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office, 1340 Financial Boulevard, Suite 234, Reno, NV 89523; telephone 775-861-6300; facsimile 775-861-6301.  For further information contact : Robert D. Williams, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Nevada Fish and Wildlife Office  If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339. For more information on the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, refer to the final listing rule published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2000 (65 FR 20) and the proposed critical habitat rule published in the Federal Register on July 25, 2007 (72 FR 40955). We requested written comments from the public on the proposed designation of critical habitat for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep published on July 25, 2007 (72 FR 40956). The 60-day comment period for the proposed rule closed on September 24, 2007. A request for a comment period extension was received from a private organization on August 20, 2007, and on October 9, 2007, the comment period was reopened until November 23, 2007 (72 FR 57276). A 30-day comment period was opened on the DEA and the proposed rule on February 5, 2008, and closed on March 6, 2008 (73 FR 6684). Comments and new information received in response to the proposed rule and the DEA were incorporated in the final rule.

Voters Approve Detroit Zoo Tax

August 6, 2008  www.freep.com  By John Wisely

A tax to fund the Detroit Zoo has passed overwhelmingly in all three counties, providing a stable funding source for the next 10 years. The measure passed in Wayne and Oakland counties by 3-1 margins with more than 90% of the precincts counted. It passed by a 2-1 margin in Macomb County, with 100% of the precincts counted.  Zoo director Ron Kagan said "It's a reflection of a very deep relationship between the zoo and the community it serves."  The approval comes despite tough economic times and it strikes a blow to opponents of regionalism,  which some argue has long been lacking in metro Detroit. Kagan said the millage is crucial to keeping the financially troubled zoo afloat.  The tax, will cost the owner of a $200,000 home about $10 per year, will generate almost $15 million a year toward the zoo's $26-million annual budget. The rest comes from admissions, concessions and donations.  The City of Detroit eliminated its subsidy for the zoo in 2006, and turned over zoo operations to the nonprofit Detroit Zoological Society, its longtime fund-raising arm.  The city still owns the zoo and all its assets, and pays about $1.2  million annually for insurance and security costs, said Gail Warden,  chairman of the Zoological Society.  The state Legislature appropriated $4 million in fiscal 2007 to help the zoo while it sought a millage. The zoo draws almost 1 million visitors a year. Most zoos around the county receive public support, including the Toledo Zoo, which levies 1.85 mills for operations and capital improvements. That tax is limited to one county, while the Detroit  Zoo's tax will be levied in three counties .

Memphis Zoo Tops in the Nation According to Trip Advisor

August 7, 2008  www.bizjournals.com

OVERTON PARK, Tennessee -- The Memphis Zoo is listed as the top zoo in the nation, according to travel recommendation company Trip Advisor LLC.  In independent surveys, the Memphis Zoo scored a 90% overall satisfaction score, almost 25% higher than the national zoo  average. The rankings were gathered from traveler popularity surveys and Trip Advisor editors.  The Memphis Zoo was followed in the rankings by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Ariz.; the St. Louis Zoo; Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb.; the San Diego ZooSan Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park; the Miami Metrozoo; the Indianapolis Zoo; the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle; and the Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park.  Founded in 1906, the 70 acre zoo has completed more than  $77 million in renovations and expansions since the early 1990s. The Memphis Zoo has more than 3,500 animals  representing 500 different species.

Dallas' 2008-2009 city budget proposal Hits Zoo & Aquarium

August 7, 2008   cityhallblog.dallasnews.com  By Dave Levinthal

Dallas  City Manager Mary Suhm has recommended the following implementations to the 2008-2009 fiscal year budget.
* The overall budget is about $2.7 billion -- about 1.6 percent larger than in 2007-2008.
* No property tax rate increase. But increasing are sanitation fees (1.75 percent), the water rate (6.3 percent), zoo admission ($1) and emergency ambulance fees ($800, from $600).
* Two-hundred new police officer positions funded.
* Recreation center, swimming pool and library schedules remain unchanged.
* The Dallas Zoo will be closed one day per week -- she's not sure what day -- and the Dallas Aquarium will be shut for a year while it undergoes renovations.

Bushmeat Crisis is Decimating E. African Wildlife

August 7, 2008  www.fws.gov

bushmeat -- a term applied to any wild game hunted for food - illegal hunting is decimating populations of hippopotamus, wildebeest, zebra, and many other species that play a critical role in maintaining important ecological processes.  However, the threat is not just to wildlife but to a lucrative tourist industry that is also one of the continent's biggest employers.  The intense pressure is overwhelming the existing capacity of wildlife agencies to address the multiple facets of the issue which include a booming demand for bushmeat from urban markets and even from African immigrants living in the United States.  It's a trend the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and dozens of partners have worked for years to reverse - largely in the forested areas of Central and West Africa.  As part of a larger effort to raise awareness, build conservation capacity, and take direct action in Eastern Africa, the USFWS recently launched an innovative new fellowship program at the College of African Wildlife Management in Mweka, Tanzania.   The MENTOR Fellowship Program (Mentoring for ENvironmental Training in Outreach and Resource conservation) is aimed at training emerging wildlife professionals from four Eastern African countries (Kenya, Southern Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda) in the requisite skills required to address the illegal bushmeat trade.  "This new fellowship program will not only directly bolster capacity of wildlife professionals in Eastern Africa to address the illegal bushmeat issue, but increase the capacity of the college to provide instruction to our existing student body,"  said Freddy Manongi, Deputy Principal of the College during a ceremony marking the start of the program.

The foundation of the program is the involvement of four highly experienced African conservation professionals who will work side-by-side with the fellows throughout the 18-month program.  "As a mentor in this program, I see an opportunity to focus public attention on this issue as well as involve students in carrying out practical field activities to conserve wildlife in my country and throughout Eastern Africa," says William Olupot, a senior research scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society.  Thadeus Binamungu another mentor and a senior project officer with the African Wildlife Foundation says "It's a chance to pass on our experience in wildlife conservation, especially on issues related to illegal bushmeat, to the next generation of wildlife professionals." The use of a team approach is a central component of the MENTOR program, designed to build a durable network of practitioners working together across national boundaries to implement joint solutions to curtailing the illegal trade in bushmeat.  Throughout the course of the program, fellows and their mentors form a close-knit team to champion an integrated approach to curtailing the illegal trade in bushmeat.   As a team, the fellows exchange ideas, develop best-practices, and apply non-traditional solutions to wildlife conservation.

During the course of the program, the fellows implement field projects in their home countries. The first phase involves conducting national and local bushmeat assessments through field work, research, monitoring, stakeholder workshops, and policy reviews. Based on these assessments, the fellows work as a team to develop innovative pilot interventions to address issues such as alternative livelihood and food security strategies, policy and legal solutions, law enforcement, wildlife-human health interactions, and/or education and constituency building activities. The MENTOR fellowship program is funded through a cooperative agreement signed by the USFWS, the College of African Wildlife Management, and the Africa Biodiversity Collaborative Group, (a consortium of the African Wildlife Foundation, Conservation International, the Jane Goodall Institute, the Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, World Resources Institute, and the World Conservation Union (IUCN), World Wildlife Fund).

Zoo Atlanta $100 - $200 Million Renovation

August 7, 2008  www.bizjournals.com 

Zoo Atlanta has revealed a new master renovation plan that includes moving the zoo’s entrance back to Boulevard Avenue, and moving current exhibits to new areas.  The project would take up to 15 years, without closing the 18-year-old zoo.  It would be the first major renovation since the 1980s, according to Zoo Atlanta CEO Dennis Kelly. New Orleans architecture firm Torre Design Consortium Ltd.,  which has designed 35 zoo projects, has been selected as a consultant for the $100 - $200 Million renovation. “This is a design that could last another 30 years,” Kelly said, emphasizing the master plan is not set in stone and is not complete. “Torre told us the current entrance  is probably one-third of the size it should be and likely not in the best spot. We’re fortunate to have 35 acres and a wonderful topography, but the entrance is at the lowest point. Moving it back to the original spot will put it at the highest spot.”  Torre has also confirmed the zoo, which has about 850 animals, has space to grow for elephants and can add more great apes, such as bonobos. The zoo would also like to have an area to house hippos with underwater viewing and an area for animals indigenous to Georgia, such as cougars, black bears and manatees.

Point Defiance Zoo gets $500,000 gift

August 7, 2008  seattletimes.nwsource.com

TACOMA, Washington — The Point Defiance Zoological Society has received a $500,000 donation from the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation to bring new animals to the zoo.  The zoo says the money is part of an effort to raise more than $7 million to bring new animal exhibits to the zoo, including a clouded leopard, red wolf and 17 other species. So far, 60 percent of the money has been raised.

New Jaguar at Phoenix Zoo

August 7, 2008  www.azcentral.com

The Phoenix Zoo will welcome a 3-year-old female yellow jaguar on Friday.  Named Caipora, meaning goddess of the wilderness, she comes from the Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park in Florida.   She can be seen on the zoo's Tropics Trail adjacent to the Asian-elephant exhibit. The jaguar is native to areas of North, Central and South America and is normally found in rainforest habitats, swampy areas and dry and desert environments; including Arizona. Jaguars are the third-largest cat in the world after lions and tigers and also one of four roaring big cats. This big cat is often confused with leopards because of the jaguar's tawny coat that is covered in black spots. However, jaguars are larger than leopards and have a broad head, shorter leg and a stockier body.  The zoo participates in the Borderlands Jaguar Detection Project after jaguars were recently discovered near the Arizona-Mexico border. The project is a non-invasive study designed to detect jaguars in the remote mountains along the border between southern Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. This is the first step in identifying jaguar travel corridors and suitable jaguar habitat in the southwestern United States. You can find out more about it at borderjag.org.

Przewalski Horses Born at Wild Animal Park

August 8, 2008  www.imperialvalleynews.com

SAN DIEGO  - Three Przewalski’s horse foals made a grand entrance at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park on Friday.  The Wild Animal Park currently houses 17 of the horses, including the new additions, born Aug. 3, July 22 and July 19. Two more babies are expected soon. Foals are born after an 11-month pregnancy. Approximately 30 minutes after birth the babies must be on their legs and able to move with the herd.  Since 1974, 138 Przewalski’s horses have been born at the Park. The first pair arrived in 1970, leading the way to a successful breeding program that has allowed the Park to participate in a reintroduction program in Kazakstan. The Przewalski’s horse is an endangered species that at one time became extinct in the wild, but with reproduction and reintroduction programs, zoos and other conservation organizations have maintained this species.  A research project being conducted by San Diego Zoo Conservation Research scientists may shed light on the genetic background of this species and its true origins.

Seattle Zoo Elephant Miscarries

August 8, 2008 seattlepi.nwsource.com  By KATHY MULADY

WOODLAND PARK -- Seattle Zoo Asian elephant,  Chai suffered a miscarriage Thursday during the first trimester of her pregnancy. The 29-year-old Asian elephant was artificially inseminated in January.  An elephant pregnancy lasts 22 months, Chai was also the mother of Hansa, an elephant born at Woodland Park Zoo who died in June last year at age 6 of a herpes infection.  Animal rights activists said the miscarriage and Hansa's death underscore the need to end the breeding program in a zoo they consider too small and unhealthy for elephants.  Zoo officials had said for several weeks that they thought Chai was pregnant, but hadn't yet been able to confirm a fetus by ultrasound. The elephant's progesterone levels were elevated, indicating a pregnancy. Wednesday, zoo caretakers noted that Chai's progesterone levels were dropping and became concerned. The fetus was expelled the next day, the zoo said Friday.  "Chai is doing fine. We are keeping a close eye on her around the clock," said the zoo's general curator, Nancy Hawkes. She said it was the first time Chai has miscarried as far as they know.  Woodland Park Zoo sent fetal tissue samples to pathology laboratories for analysis. It may be several weeks before the zoo gets results. Even then, they might not indicate a reason for the miscarriage.  "We are very disappointed and saddened by this outcome. As in all mammals, miscarriages are not ncommon, especially during the first trimester," Hawkes said. "Our priority is to focus on Chai. She is eating, socializing and behaving normally, all positive signs that she is doing well."  Hawkes is an expert in elephant insemination with 15 years experience in elephant reproduction at four zoos, including the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.  Hawkes said there have been at least five attempts to artificially inseminate Chai. Hansa, however, was conceived naturally when Chai was sent to Dickerson Park Zoo in Missouri to mate with an elephant named Onyx.  Animal activists who oppose elephant breeding at Woodland Park Zoo said Friday that the miscarriage confirms the zoo's breeding program should be abandoned.

US-bred Bengal Tigers Given to Baghdad Zoo

August 8, 2008  afp.google.com

BAGHDAD (AFP) — Two Bengal tigers were presented to Baghdad's Al- Zawraa zoo on Friday by a private US conservation group. The two-year- old 150-pound (68-kilo) cubs, named Riley, a male, and Hope, a  female, cost 33,000 dollars each to ship and arrived four days ago after a wildlife conservation centre in North Carolina agreed to donate the US-bred animals.  The private agreement between the Conservators' Centre and the zoo was arranged with the help of the US army.  Once the largest zoo in the Middle East, Al-Zawraa was devastated by the US-led invasion in 2003 because it is near many of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein's old palaces which were targeted during the aerial bombing campaign.  Some of the zoo's 600 animals were killed, although most were stolen by thieves, and the rest were found dying of starvation or thirst in their cages.  "After 13 days of the US occupation we found the animals in miserable conditions,"  said director Adel Salman Mousa. "Only a few of the bigger animals were still alive, such as four lions and three bears."  With the help of local employees and a South African conservationist, Mousa began picking up the pieces, securing overseas funds to buy food and returning to the zoo at great personal risk to try and save the few remaining animals.  With the help of funding from the United States and foreign groups the zoo has since made a strong recovery and the  sprawling, leafy grounds now house nearly 800 animals of 62 species. With up to 25,000 visitors passing through its gates each week, it is a dramatic turnaround from 2006.

Secondary Effects of Guam Tree Snakes

August 8, 2008  www.eurekalert.org 

Guam, an island 30 miles long and 5 to 15 miles wide, lost most of its native birds after the brown tree snake was introduced by accident from the Admiralty Islands following World War II. The snake has few predators on Guam, so its population density is quite high –  estimated at more than 3,000 per square mile – and some individuals there grow to an unusual size of 10 feet long.  Unchecked for many years, the snakes caused the extinction of nearly every native bird species on the Pacific island of Guam,  losses among other native animal species, attacks on children and pets, and electrical power outages.  Guam had 12 species of native forest birds. Today 10 of  those are extinct on Guam, and the other two species have fewer than 200 individuals. Now new research by University of Washington biologists suggests that indirect impacts might be even farther reaching, possibly changing tree distributions and reducing native tree populations, altering already damaged ecosystems even further. Haldre Rogers, a UW doctoral student in biology said "It has been 25 years since the birds disappeared. It seems to me the consequences  are going to keep reverberating throughout the community if birds are fundamental components of the forest," she said.  Birds are important for pollination, spreading seeds around the forest and controlling insects that feed on plants.  Some plant species need birds to handle their seeds to ensure effective germination. In addition, seed predators and fungi that kill seeds are often found in high density directly beneath a parent tree, so the trees rely on birds to disperse seeds beyond the range of those negative effects. If native birds performed those functions on Guam, tree populations could suffer from the loss of birds. It appears 60 percent to 70 percent of tree species in the native forests are dispersed, at least in part, by birds, she said.  She notes that recent studies show bird populations are declining worldwide, and that as many as 25 percent of U.S. species face the threat of extinction.  "These findings could have global implications, since forests in areas that have had a decline in bird populations instead of outright extinction might show  effects similar to those in the forests of Guam," Rogers said.  She will deliver her findings Aug. 8 at the Ecological Society of America meeting in Milwaukee. Further research, Rogers believes, could turn up other indirect impacts the brown tree snake has had on Guam. For example, she notes anecdotal evidence that there is a substantially higher spider population on Guam than on other nearby islands, and she speculates that could largely be because the native bird 
population has been decimated.

Invasive Snail Alters Great Lakes Ecology

August 8, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Long a problem in the western U.S., the New Zealand mud snail currently inhabits four of the five Great Lakes and is spreading into rivers and tributaries, according to a Penn State team of researchers. They out-compete native snails and insects, but are not good fish food replacements for the native species.  "These snails have an operculum, a door that closes the shell," says Edward P. Levri, associate professor of biology at Penn State's Altoona Campus. "They can be out of the water for longer than other snails and when fed to fish, they are not digested and sometimes come out alive. This has a potential to alter the salmon and trout fisheries because they alter the food chain."  In New Zealand, the snails reproduce asexually, resulting in identical clones, or sexually. However, in invaded areas, asexual cloning is the only mode of reproduction.  This mud snail spread to England as early as 1850 and Europe in the late 1800s. It is found in Japan, but when the snail arrived there is unknown. The first mud snail found in the U.S. was in 1987 in the Snake River, Idaho, but the species did not appear in the east until 1991 in Lake Ontario. The western and eastern U.S. populations are separate episodes of introduction, because they represent different clones; in each case, only one snail needed to be introduced to begin the invasion. The snails in the Great Lakes region appear to be the same as one clone found in Europe.  "In the western U.S., this species is of special concern largely because of their ability to modify ecosystems," Levri told attendees today (Aug. 8) at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting in Milwaukee.  The snails in western streams alter the nitrogen and carbon cycling. They are primarily grazers and detritus eaters with very wide food preferences. In some places in streams in Yellowstone National Park, they reach population densities of 323 individuals per square inch. Levri, working with undergraduates Warren J. Jacoby, Shane J. Lunen, Ashley A. Kelly and Thomas A. Ladson, found that densities in the Great Lakes are not anywhere near that in the West.  In New Zealand, the mud snails are not a problem because of native trematodes --  flukes -- that infect the snails and controls their population and  reproduction. Some people have suggested that those who want to control the snail introduce this trematode to the U.S. to control the snails.

SF Zoo Will Decide on Future Next Month

August 8, 2008  www.sfgate.com  By Marisa Lagos

SAN FRANCISCO-- A committee of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 to send their plan to turn the city's zoo into a facility for rescued animals to the full board for a vote next month.  Zoo officials and many volunteers have been outspoken in their opposition to the legislation, pointing out that 100 of the facility's more than 700 animals were rescued from various situations and warning that passage of the measure could cause the zoo to lose its accreditation from the AZA.  The association's accreditation commission, in a letter from its chairwoman to the zoo, warned that the proposal would threaten the zoo's membership in the organization because the facility's director would no longer have final authority over the zoo.  Tanya Peterson, the zoo's interim executive director, said that some parts of the legislation would make it impossible to operate the facility.  "As I read the ordinance, resources would have to be dedicated to turning the zoo into a rescue facility," she said. "There are high costs associated with the care of rescue animals, and many donors restrict their funds to (specific programs). ... This would limit the funds we have for educational and conservation programs." The measure would make animal welfare a priority at the zoo, and require that any future acquisitions be rescued animals,  including those that were abused or those confiscated by law enforcement authorities after being illegally owned or imported.  It also would bar the zoo from acquiring new animals "unless the needs of all animals currently at the zoo have been met," and would create an oversight body that reports to the Board of Supervisors. Some breeding programs for endangered animals would be allowed to continue.  Deniz Bolbol of In Defense of Animals, an animal rights group, called the committee's vote "a good first step." Bolbol said the zoo and the Recreation and Park Commission, which oversees the Zoological Society, have been secretive and unwilling to work with members of the public.  Attendance at the 79-year-old zoo dropped in the months after the attack, and in June, the Zoological Society's board of directors forced out the zoo's executive director.

Bull Elephant Returns to Cincinnati Zoo

August 8, 2008 news.cincinnati.com  By Jim Knippenberg

Sabu, a 20-year-old, 10,000-pound Asian bull elephant who has spent the last 10 years at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Mo., is home again. He’s the first male in-house since 1998, and will join females Jati, Schottzie and Mai-Thai.  Hopefully, Sabu and Jati will breed again. They were successful in 1998 when they produced Ganesh, the first elephant conceived and born in Ohio since the Ice Age.  Cecil Jackson Jr., 47, is team leader and elephant manager - a 34-year zoo veteran who began his career there at age 14.  “Actually, they already bred about six weeks ago, " he said, "but we won’t know if it took for about 10 more weeks. We’re already monitoring her blood and urine.”  Schottzie and Mai-Thai are not breeding options, but they have been around babies and know what to do. They even took over care of Ganesh when Jati needed a break. Jackson said.“Schottzie is 36, Mai-Thai is 38 and 23 is the generally accepted age to halt breeding.”  An artificial insemination plan overseen by the Species Survival Plan, will also be implemented.  With 30,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, they classified as endangered.  The zoo’s Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife will collect semen and share it with zoos nationwide that don’t have a male. That’s most of them – females outnumber males five to one in the United States.  Sabu is one of the most genetically valuable bulls in America, because he’s a proven breeder and his bloodline is new to the captive population. Other than Ganesh, who was shipped to the Columbus Zoo in 2003 and died there in 2005, Sabu only has one other offspring, a female named Nisha born at Dickerson.

Sabu, a wild-caught orphan, was a favorite attraction here from 1991 to 1998. He was moved to Dickerson when Jati was expecting and the zoo’s facility wasn’t equipped to handle a baby and an adult male. He arrived back in Cincinnati in November, but has been off-display,  undergoing conditioning, learning to sit for baths, stand still for a daily physical, semen collection and  general retraining.  Sabu’s new home, an 8,100-square- foot yard was paid for by a grant from the Marge and Charles Schott Foundation. It has been rehabbed into a bachelor pad separate from  the females’ yard so they can live as they do in the wild, where  males and females don’t mingle except to breed. His area is lushly green with an array of plantings, waterfall, small pool and safety features designed according to AZA guidelines for housing bull elephants.

Smallest Snake "Discovery" is Controversial

August 9, 2008  www.physorg.com 

Penn State University evolutionary biologist S. Blair Hedges, and his research teams have discovered the world's tiniest lizard in the Dominican Republic and the smallest frog in Cuba.  He recently became the first to discribe the "discovery" of the world's smallest snake (adults are less than 4 inches) in the Barbados and named it "Leptotyphlops carlae," after his wife.  When he published his observations and genetic test results in the journal "Zootaxa Barbadians reacted angrily, venting on blogs and the radio, questioning how someone could "discover" a snake long known to locals as the thread snake.  Damon Corrie, president of the Caribbean Herpetological Society, acknowledged that Hedges is the first to scientifically examine and describe the snake, but the so-called discovery makes locals seem ignorant.  "It gives the impression that people here ... depend on people from abroad to come and show us things in our own backyard," Corrie said.  Karl Watson, a historian and ornithologist at the University of the West Indies in Barbados, said it's common for people to get excited over very tiny or very large animals.

Zoo and Aquarium Advertizing, Branding & Sponsorships

August 10, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com   By Rudy Socha

Many opportunities exist for advertisers in the affluent and unique zoo and aquarium market. Unfortunately most advertising agencies have limited experience showcasing their companies in the market.  To further baffle media and sponsorship buyers entering the market, most zoos and aquariums run three very different advertising campaigns simultaneously. Each campaign has a different goal, budget, and methodology for achieving desired results. Each segment presents an opportunity for companies to increase their brand name recognition and promote their services and products. In many cases different people are responsible for each campaign. Here is an overview of the zoo and aquarium market and the opportunities existing in it.  Because of the diversity in the manner that zoos and aquariums are structured and the difference in size and attendance, this overview is not exactly mirrored at each facility. The following is a look at the three key advertising, branding, and sponsorship areas that are vital to a zoo's or aquarium's success.  Fundraising: This is the genesis for all zoo and aquarium operations. Without financing the facility can not exist. Zoos and aquariums fall under some variation of one of these three operating structures, including corporations (Disney Animal Kingdom, Busch Gardens), public (Cleveland Zoo, Detroit Zoo), or private ownership (St. Augustine Alligator Farm, Acadiana Zoo).  Because of the different structures, the fundraising takes place in many forms from conducting animal name auctions and politicking the politicians, to placing levies on the ballots.  The zoo and aquarium visitor is most familiar with fundraising dinners and other fundraising special events. These usually involve finding sponsors to underwrite the event, selling tickets, a silent auction, and either an awards ceremony or prizes to be given away.  In most cases these events are managed by an outside group of volunteers with input from the Zoo's or Aquarium's Director and Communications Manager. It is usually done under the umbrella of a zoological or aquarium Society.  The individuals buying tickets for these events are the donors, corporate CEO's, and the city's high net worth families. This is a small, but highly desirable demographic for advertisers.  Generally the advertisers most interested in reaching this group are adult beverage companies, art stores, banks, classy local restaurants, credit card companies, financial service companies, high-end jewelry stores, insurance companies, spas, and travel related companies.

Zoo and Aquarium Advertizing, Branding & Sponsorships

August 10, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com  By Rudy Socha

Many opportunities exist for advertisers in the affluent and unique zoo and aquarium market. Unfortunately most advertising agencies have limited experience showcasing their companies in the market.  To further baffle media and sponsorship buyers entering the market, most zoos and aquariums run three very different advertising campaigns simultaneously. Each campaign has a different goal, budget, and methodology for achieving desired results. Each segment presents an opportunity for companies to increase their brand name recognition and promote their services and products. In many cases different people are responsible for each campaign. Here is an overview of the zoo and aquarium market and the opportunities existing in it.  Because of the diversity in the manner that zoos and aquariums are structured and the difference in size and attendance, this overview is not exactly mirrored at each facility. The following is a look at  the three key advertising, branding, and sponsorship areas that are vital to a zoo's or aquarium's success.  Fundraising: This is the genesis for all zoo and aquarium operations. Without financing the facility can not exist. Zoos and aquariums fall under some variation of one of these three operating structures, including corporations (Disney Animal Kingdom, Busch Gardens), public (Cleveland Zoo, Detroit Zoo), or private ownership (St. Augustine Alligator Farm,  Acadiana Zoo).  Because of the different structures, the fundraising  takes place in many forms from conducting animal name auctions and politicking the politicians, to placing levies on the ballots.  The zoo and aquarium visitor is most familiar with fundraising dinners and other fundraising special events. These usually involve finding sponsors to underwrite the event, selling tickets, a silent auction,  and either an awards ceremony or prizes to be given away.  In most  cases these events are managed by an outside group of volunteers with input from the Zoo's or Aquarium's Director and Communications Manager. It is usually done under the umbrella of a zoological or aquarium Society.  The individuals buying tickets for these events are the donors, corporate CEO's, and the city's high net worth families. This is a small, but highly desirable demographic for advertisers.  Generally the advertisers most interested in reaching this group are adult beverage companies, art stores, banks, classy local restaurants, credit card companies, financial service companies, high-end jewelry stores, insurance companies, spas, and travel related companies.

Cairo Zoo Seeks to Improve

August 10, 2008  www.reuters.com  By Cynthia Johnston

CAIRO (Reuters) -  Air-conditioning for bears (Water and fans) is part of efforts to revitalise Cairo's scruffy but historical Giza Zoo and help it rejoin a world zoo association after its exclusion in 2004.  Giza Zoo was once among the crown jewels of African zoos. It was commissioned by Khedive Ismail of Egypt's royal family and opened in 1891 to showcase imported flowers, exotic plants and a huge exhibition of African wildlife.  Now, animal rights activists complain that the zoo's Victorian-style cages -- some more like display cases than homes for animals -- are too small and dingy, and that the zookeepers know little about animal health.  "The conditions are just horrendous," said Nadia Montasser, an activist with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who was cautiously optimistic about the changes. The zoo is home to roughly 6,000 animals from 175 species, among them some rare species of oryx and crocodile and the Nile Lechwe, an antelope indigenous to south Sudan.  Zoo spokeswoman Mona Sadek said that at one point several years ago, it had lost up to a quarter of the species it once held because of mismanagement and lost its membership in the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA), after a previous administration fell into arrears on membership fees and then ignored the recommendations of a WAZA inspection team according to Executive Director Peter Dollinger.  Then in 2007, a new director was named for the zoo, and signs of change now abound. In the reptile house,  workers are building customized mini-jungle gyms for the lizards. Outside, the zoo is working to combine several monkey cages to give the animals more space.  The zoo has designed a larger habitat for its increasing number of chimps, including three who were recently confiscated from pet shops and a resort. But the zoo must find  sponsors to pay 2.7 million Egyptian pounds ($510,000) for construction.  "With the budget we have, we can't afford any of this.  It is just for feeding and maintenance," Sadek said.  Zoo officials also hope to build a new yard for the bears to roam, and already have funds in place for a new elephant house. Later this month, an official from the African Association of Zoos and Aquaria (PAAZAB) will inspect the zoo and make recommendations for further changes. Joining PAAZAB is a first step toward regaining membership in the world zoo body. "We have never turned a zoo down," PAAZAB Executive  Director Dave Morgan said.

Elephant Malti Celebrates First Birthday at Calgary Zoo

August 10, 2008  www.canada.com  By Valerie Fortney

CALGARY, Canada -- Malti was rejected at birth by her mother Maharani, but the Asian elephant has been nurtured by a group of six elephant keepers, backed up by medical professionals, who worked round-the-clock for months. Thanks to them, an elephant once in danger of not making it past 365 days of life can now look forward to potentially 50, even 60, years.  From the moment she first opened her eyes, Malti has been greeted by human faces.  Shei is getting the hang of training, having learned to lift her feet, move sideways,  backwards and forward, to lay on her side and to open her mouth wide so her caregivers can check her teeth.  "We're now seeing the benefits of her not bonding as well with her mother," says keeper,  Scott Russell, who notes the number one challenge of training is separating baby from mother for lesson time. "But Malti likes to come with us and Rani doesn't seem to mind."  Other than one mild bout of clostridium, a bacteria that, among other things, brings on diarrhea,  Malti is about as healthy as one can hope for in a baby elephant.  She recently moved onto such solids as apple and hay. "If her mother dried up tomorrow, we'd be able to feed her from the bottle."  "She's easy to train because she likes to be challenged.  "It's only been a year? It feels like decades."  Groups like Zoocheck Canada, an organization that focuses on captive wild animal issues, stands firm on its opposition to keeping such large animals as elephants in captivity at all, as does People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Such organizations have spoken out in recent years against 
the Calgary Zoo's captive breeding program; earlier this year, after keeper Brent Van Hooft was injured when he was pushed into a wall by Swarna, a 34-year-old female Asian elephant, both groups urged the zoo to implement a protected-contact practice -- in which a safety barrier is between elephants and keepers at all times -- for all of its residents, not just its 12,000-pound male, Spike.  But organizations like the North America-wide Association of Zoos and Aquariums, of which the Calgary Zoo is a member, defend captivity and breeding of such endangered animals as part of a conservation strategy that will help save them from extinction.  "There will always be those who don't want animals in zoos at all,  But the elephants do very well in captivity if they're well taken care of. and we treat them with the utmost respect and care."

3D Ad Campaign for Wellington Zoo

August 11, 2008  www.stuff.co.nz

An innovative 3D advertising campaign run for Wellington Zoo has helped Christchurch University's HIT Lab to win a US$2 million research contract with The Media Power Group in New York.  "Virtual" zoo animals appeared to pop out of newspapers and on to cellphones  when readers viewed advertisements for the zoo through the cameras on their cellphones.  The animations were created by a small application that was downloaded in a text message, once readers responded to a short code published in the adverts. The application used the cellphone's camera and a visual cue in the advertisement to work out where, on screen, to display the animation. Media Power chief executive Rich Jenkins said in a statement that augmented reality was one of today's most exciting and promising technologies. "Media Power is commercialising the technology and plans to make it available to everyone", creating an "entirely new advertising paradigm for marketers", he said.  Professor Billinghurst says many cellphones now  have the three key pieces of technology required for augmented  reality applications – cameras, powerful processors and displays.

Elephant Memories are Key to Survival

August 11, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

A recent study by the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) suggests that experienced matriarchs—and perhaps their memories of distant, life-sustaining sources of food and water—may be the key to survival during the worst of times "Understanding how elephants and other animal populations react to droughts will be a central component of wildlife management and conservation," said Wildlife Conservation Society researcher Dr. Charles Foley, lead author of the study. "Our findings seem to support the hypothesis that older females with knowledge of distant resources become crucial to the survival of herds during periods of extreme climatic events."  Dr Nathalie Pettorelli, ZSL researcher and co-author of a paper published in The Royal Society's Biology Letters, "Climate change is expected to lead to a higher occurrence of severe drought in Africa and our study suggests that such extreme climatic events may act as a selection force on animal populations. As animals battle to cope certain individuals, such as these grand dames of the elephant kingdom, might become increasingly important."

Specifically, the study examines patterns of calf mortality during the drought of 1993 in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park, the most severe drought in that region in the past 35 years. During a nine-month period of that year, sixteen out of 81 elephant calves in the three groups studied died, a mortality rate of 20 percent. The normal mortality rate of calves during non-drought years is a mere two percent.  When compared with other data, researchers noted correlations in calf survivorship with the movements of the groups and, in particular, the ages of the female members within those groups. First, of the three elephant groups observed during the event, the two groups that left the park suffered lower mortality rates than the group that remained in the northern portion of the protected area. The researchers speculated that these elephants succeeded in finding sufficient food and water outside the protected area to keep themselves and their young alive. The group that stayed suffered 63 percent of the mortality for the year.

Second, an examination of the ages of the individual elephants in the three herds was even more suggestive. The data indicated that the age of the mother elephants was an important predictor for calf survival. The two groups that left the park, presumably in search of food and water, had matriarchs that were ages 45 and 38 years of age respectively, whereas the group that remained had a matriarch that was only 33 years of age, the result of heavy poaching during the 1970's and 1980's that targeted older females with large tusks. Third, the researchers pointed out that the groups that left the park may have benefited from the specific experiences of their oldest matriarchs, which perhaps were able to draw upon memories of an earlier drought and how they survived it. The case is strengthened by the known life history of the oldest matriarchs in these groups, some of which were five years or older during the drought of 1958-61. The group that remained in Tarangire in 1993 had no individuals old enough to remember the event. Foley added, "The data seem to support the speculation that the matriarchs with the necessary experience of such events were able to lead their groups to drought refugia."  During the 1970s and '80s, many of Eastern Africa's largest elephants fell victim to waves of poachers who were eager to exploit the profitability of the black market for ivory. "Hopefully, this study underlines the importance of how crucial older matriarchs are to the health of elephant populations," added Foley. "Protecting the leaders of elephant herds will be even more important in what may be an increase in droughts due to climate change."

Critical Habitat for 12 Species of Picture-wing Flies from Hawaii

August 12, 2008  www.epa.gov

USFWS is reopening of the comment period on the revised proposed designation of critical habitat for 12 species of Hawaiian picture-wing flies (Drosophila aglaia, D. differens, D. hemipeza, D. heteroneura, D.montgomeryi, D. mulli, D. musaphilia, D. neoclavisetae, D. obatai, D.ochrobasis, D. substenoptera, and D. tarphytrichia) under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). We also announce the availability of a draft economic analysis (DEA) and an amended required determinations section of the proposal. We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the revised proposed rule, the associated DEA, and the amended required determinations section. If you submitted comments previously, you do not need to resubmit them because we have already incorporated them into the public record and will fully consider them in preparation of the final rule.  Comments must be received or postmarked on or before September 11, 2008.  Submit comments by one of the following methods:   Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov   U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AV91; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.

Advocating a Bioplan for Trees

August 12, 2008  www.nytimes.com   By JIM ROBBINS

MERRICKVILLE, Ontario — Diana Beresford-Kroeger has bachelor's degrees in medical biochemistry and botany and has worked as a Ph.D.- level researcher at the University of Ottawa school of medicine.  She works to bring together aboriginal healing, Western medicine and botany with a bioplan to reforest cities and rural areas with trees according to the medicinal, environmental, nutritional, pesticidal and herbicidal properties she claims for them, which she calls ecofunctions.  Wafer ash, for example, could be used in organic farming, she said, planted in hedgerows to attract butterflies away from crops. Black walnut and honey locusts could be planted along roads to absorb pollutants, she said.  “Her ideas are a rare, if not entirely new approach to natural history,” said Edward O. Wilson, a Harvard biologist who wrote the foreword for her 2003 book, “Arboretum America” (University of Michigan Press). “The science of selecting trees for different uses around the world has not been well studied.”  Although some compounds found in trees do have medicinal properties and are the subject of research and treatment, she jumps beyond the evidence to say they also affect human health in their natural forms. The black walnut, for example, contains limonene, which is found in citrus fruit and elsewhere and has been shown to have anticancer effects in some studies of laboratory animals. Ms. Beresford-Kroeger has suggested, without evidence, that limonene inhaled in aerosol form by humans will help prevent cancer.  Memory Elvin-Lewis, a professor of botany at Washington University in St. Louis and co-author, with her husband, Walter H. Lewis, of “Medical Botany: Plants Affecting Human Health” (2003, John Wiley & Sons), said such a role for trees could be true. In India, she said, compounds from neem trees are said to have anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties and are planted around hospitals and sanitariums. “It’s not implausible,” Dr. Elvin-Lewis said; it simply hasn’t been studied.  On a more solid scientific footing, Ms. Beresford-Kroeger is also concerned about the fate of the Northern forests because of overharvest and the destruction of ecosystems. Federal scientists estimate more than 93 percent of old growth has been cut. As forests are fragmented, they dry out, losing wildlife and insect species. As a result, subtle relationships,  are breaking down before they have been studied.  “In a walk through old growth forest, there are thousands if not millions of chemicals and their synergistic effects with one another,” she said. “What trees do chemically in the environment is something we’re only beginning to understand.”  Trees also absorb pollutants from the ground, comb particulates from the air and house beneficial insects.

Cuban Zoo Will Send Animals to Venezuela

August 12, 2008  www.msnbc.msn.com   By Esteban Israel

HAVANA - Officials at the Havana National Zoological Park are preparing to transport animals to Venezuela next month to replenish the South American country's zoos, depleted by years of neglect. Venezuela will give medical equipment to Cuba in exchange for the animals, Havana zoo director Tomas Escobar said in a recent interview. The list of animals is still being negotiated but among the 10 or so expected to go are a giraffe named "Evo" for Bolivia's leftist leader Evo Morales, a lion, a pygmy hippopotamus, two hyenas, an antelope and an ankoli African cow. A white rhinoceros may be sent later.  The Cuban  zoo was hit hard by the economic crisis that followed the collapse of their benefactor, the Soviet Union, in 1991  But it still has managed to create one of the best collections of African animals in the world.  About 400 zebras and 300 lions have been born in captivity on its 840 acres on the outskirts of the Cuban capital, and many have been sent to zoos in other countries, Escobar said.  Some of the lions are descendants of lions that former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere gave former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the 1970s. The trade with Venezuela will allow the zoo, which opened in 1984, to get electronic microscopes, centrifuges and other equipment it now lacks in its veterinary facilities.

Chinese Box Turtle Born at Bristol Zoo

August 12, 2008  www.express.co.uk By Emily Garnham

A Chinese box turtle hatched three weeks ago at the Bristol Zoo ready to face the spotlight as the reptile house’s latest addition.  Because the tiny creature is hunted for meat in its native land, is used in Chinese medicines, and is also a popular pet, nine species of box turtle are currently red-listed by the IUCN - seven of which are categorized as “critically endangered”.  Weighing 15 grams and measuring four centimeters, the newborn joins 14 adult box turtles in the reptile house Tim Skelton, Bristol Zoo Gardens’ curator of reptiles, said “We have kept Chinese box turtles at the Zoo for three years and this is just our second hatch and will greatly help our understanding of the breeding and incubation of the more critically endangered turtles that we are trying to breed.” Also known as a yellow-margined box turtle, this little reptile can expect to weigh around 800 grams and measure 16 cm when fully grown. They can live for more than 50 years.

SeaWorld Conservation Grants

August 12, 2008  blogs.orlandosentinel.com

The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund announced it has presented a $10,000 grant to a group in China that is trying to discourage restaurants from serving game that was killed through illegal wildlife trade during the Olympics.  The Shanshui Conservation Center, an extension of Conservation International, will produce and distribute 20,000 "green dining cards" in restaurants and hotels throughout the city, identifying menu items to avoid. The goal is to advance public awareness of the health, safety, ecological, scientific and legal issues surrounding wild animal consumption. Another $10,000 "animal crisis grant" has been presented to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to assist the giant panda population after the devastating May 12 earthquake that affected the Qionglai and Minshan mountain ranges, home to almost 90 percent of the remaining wild giant pandas.  The SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund is supported mostly by direct donations and proceeds from certain merchandise sales and wildlife encounter programs at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens-Tampa Bay and other Busch Entertainment Corp. theme parks.

Extinction Most Likely for Rare Amazon Trees

August 13, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Common tree species in the Amazon will survive even grim scenarios of deforestation and road-building, but rare trees could suffer extinction rates of up to 50 percent, predict Smithsonian scientists and colleagues in the Aug. 12 issue of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.  The Amazon basin contains about 40 percent of the world's remaining rainforest. One of the fundamental characteristics of tropical forests is the presence of very rare tree species. Competing models of relative species abundance, one based on Fisher's alpha statistic and the other based on Preston's lognormal curve, yield different proportions of rare trees in the forest. Thirty years ago Stephen P. Hubbell, and Robin Foster, set up a unique experiment to monitor the growth, birth and death of more than 250,000 tropical trees on Panama's Barro Colorado Island. This large "forest dynamics plot" would generate the data needed to build good models that include rare species. Today the Center for Tropical Forest Science coordinates a Global Earth Observatory—a network of 20 such forest study sites in 17 countries, which maintains "actuarial tables" for more than 3 million trees. Hubbell works with data from the network to develop and test his neutral theory of biodiversity—an attempt to find a unified explanation of large, complex biological systems that accurately predicts the outcome of major ecological and evolutionary forces of change. In this offering, the authors use the neutral theory to predict the number of tree species and to test predictions of the Millenium Ecosystems Assessment that forecasts major tree extinctions in the Amazon over the next several decades. First, they estimate that the Brazilian Amazon has (or had) 11,210 large tree species, and, of these, 5,308 species are classified as rare. Based on optimistic and non-optimistic scenarios for road construction in the Amazon published by the Smithsonian's William Laurance and colleagues in the journal Science in 2004, they predict that the rare species will suffer between 37 and 50 percent extinction, whereas the extinction rate for all trees could be from 20 to 33 percent overall.

Can Tourism and Wildlife Mix?

August 13, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Nature lovers and ecotourists may be having an unexpectedly damaging impact on wildlife. A study of protected Californian forest has shown that hiking, wildlife-watching and similar low-impact activities are linked to a sharp drop in numbers of carnivores such as bobcats and coyotes.  "We saw dramatic, fivefold reductions in the native species," says Adina Merenlender of the University of California, Berkeley, who ran the study with Sarah Reed of the San Francisco-based Wilderness Society.  Ecotourism is big business.  In 2004, it grew three times as fast as the tourist industry as a whole. One in five tourists now go on eco-holidays. It has been shown to have an impact on a range of species, from dolphins and dingoes to penguins and polar bears (New Scientist, 6 March 2004, p 6). The dilemma is that revenue from ecotourism provides one of the best incentives for local communities to protect endangered animals instead of hunting them. Philip Seddon, a wildlife management specialist at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, says the finding that such apparently harmless activities may alter the make-up of wildlife communities challenges the main concept of ecotourism - that it minimises impacts and maximises benefits. Reserve managers may in future have to make more areas off-limits to tourists. The teams findings appear in Conservation Letters, and suggest several strategies for reconciling the needs of wildlife and people. One is to ensure that visitors stick to prescribed trails and do not penetrate deep into protected habitat. Others include introducing permit systems and restricting access to certain times of the year.

Climate Change Threatened 1 in 5 Plant Species

August 13, 2008  www.ufz.de

Climate change threatens one in five plant species by altering growing conditions in many regions of the world. One in five of Germany’s plant species could lose parts of its current range, a study by scientists at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the French Laboratoire d’Ecologie Alpine reveals. Species distributions will be rearranged as a result of climate change; this could have a dramatic impact particularly on the vegetation in south-western and eastern Germany. The researchers have modelled and recorded how the ranges of a total of 845 European plant species will shift under three different future scenarios. Even moderate climate change and limited land use changes could have an adverse impact on flora, the researchers write in the current edition of Biology Letters. The research shows how important it is to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius above the pre-industrial level in order to preserve broad biodiversity in plant species.

Listing of Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander

August 13, 2008  www.epa.gov  

The USFWS propose to split the listing of the currently threatened flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) into two distinct species: frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) and reticulated flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma bishopi) due to a change in taxonomy. The frosted flatwoods salamander will maintain the status of threatened. However, we propose to list the reticulated flatwoods salamander as endangered under the ESA. We also propose to designate critical habitat for both the frosted flatwoods salamander and the reticulated flatwoods salamander under the Act. In total, approximately 30,628 acres (ac) (12,395 hectares (ha)) (23,132 ac (9,363 ha) for the frosted flatwoods salamander and 7,496 ac (3,035 ha) for the reticulated flatwoods salamander) fall within the boundaries of the proposed critical habitat designation, which is located in the panhandle of Florida, southwestern Georgia, and southeastern South Carolina. We also announce the availability of the draft economic analysis for our proposed designation of critical habitat for the frosted and reticulated flatwoods salamanders. The draft economic analysis estimates that, over the period 2009 to 2028, post-designation costs for frosted and reticulated flatwoods salamander conservation-related activities would range between $3.88 million and $6.40 million (at a 3 percent discount rate) and $2.49 million to $4.38 million (at a 7 percent discount rate). Potential impacts are expected to range from $261,000 to $430,000 at 3 percent or $235,000 to $413,000 at 7 percent annually. We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before October 14, 2008. We must receive requests for public hearings, in writing by September 29, 2008.You may submit comments by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS- R4-ES-2008-0082]; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203. We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov     
For further information contact: Ray Aycock, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi Field Office, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Jackson, MS 39213; telephone: 601-321-1122; facsimile: 601-965-4340. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

Revised Critical Habitat for Northern Spotted Owl

August 13, 2008  www.epa.gov  

The USFWS is revising currently designated critical habitat for the northern spotted owl (Strix occidentalis caurina). In 1992, we designated critical habitat for the northern spotted owl on 6, 887, 000 acres (ac) (2, 787, 070 hectares (ha)) of Federal lands in California, Oregon, and Washington. In this document we finalize revised critical habitat for the northern spotted owl on a total of approximately 5, 312, 300 acres (ac) (2, 149, 800 hectares (ha)) of Federal lands in California, Oregon, and Washington. This rule becomes effective on September 12, 2008. The rule and its associated economic analysis are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov  and http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/species  For furnter information contact: Paul Henson, Field Supervisor, Oregon Fish and Wildlife Office, (see ADDRESSES); Ken Berg, Field Supervisor, Western Washington Fish and Wildlife Office, 510 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA 98503 (telephone 360-753-9440); Michael Long, Field Supervisor, Arcata Fish and Wildlife Office, 1655 Heindon Road, Arcata, CA 95521 (telephone 707-822-7201).

Endangered Species Permit Applications

August 13, 2008  www.epa.gov 

USFWS invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Comments on these permit applications must be received on or before September 12, 2008.  Submit to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916-414-6464; fax: 916-414-6486). Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments. All comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the official administrative record and may be made available to the public. For further information contact :  Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife 760-431-9440

Permit No. TE-022225
Applicant: Eric W. Stitt, Tucson, Arizona. The permittee requests an amendment to take (harass by survey, capture, handle, mark, photograph, and release) the arroyo southwestern toad (Bufo microscaphus californicus) and the blunt-nosed leopard lizard (Gambelia silus) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-126141
Applicant: Christina M. Shanney, Santee, California. The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their

Permit No. TE-161511
Applicant: Meredith E. Protas, Berkeley, California.  The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, collect biological samples, and release) the California freshwater shrimp (Syncaris pacifica) in conjunction with biological research throughout the range of the species in California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-175386
Applicant: USGS, California Cooperative Research Unit, Arcata, California. The applicant requests an amendment to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the shortnose sucker (Chasmistes brevirostris) and Lost river sucker (Deltistes luxatus) in conjunction with surveys and demographic studies in Modoc County, California, and Klamath County, Oregon for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

August 13, 2008  www.epa.gov

USFWS invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Written data, comments or requests must be received by September 12, 2008.  Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act, by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, Virginia 22203;  For further information contact: Division of Management Authority, telephone 703/358-2104.

Applicant: University of Alaska Museum of the North, Fairbanks, AK, PRT-182602. The applicant requests a permit to import tissue samples of museum specimens of Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis) from the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for the purpose of scientific research.

Applicant: University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute, Lawrence, KS, PRT-677648. The applicant requests a renewal of their permit to export, re-export, and re-import non-living museum specimens of endangered and threatened species of plants and animals previously accessioned into the permittee's collection, for scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a five-year period.

Applicant: Busch Gardens, Tampa, FL, PRT-174382. The applicant requests a permit to import one male and two female captive-born Bornean orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus pygmaeus) from the Auckland Zoological Park, New Zealand for the purpose of enhancement of the species through captive breeding and conservation education.

Applicant: Tom D. Smith, Grantsville, UT, PRT-181040. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Sean E. Perry, White City, OR, PRT-183403.  The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Robert W. Langenberg, Montgomery, AL, PRT-186876. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Conley L. Marcum, Jr., Anchorage, AK, PRT-187825. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Michael H. Shaw, Mayo, FL, PRT-188028. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the

Applicant: Mark C. Glass-Royal, Darnestown, MD, PRT-188839.  The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: David C. Lau, Oconomowoc, WI, PRT-187826.  The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: William F. Scott, Nederland, TX, PRT-185770.  The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

August 13, 2008   www.epa.gov 

USFWS invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species.  Written data, comments or requests must be received by September 12, 2008.  For further information contact:  Division of Management Authority, telephone 703/358-2104.

Applicant: Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA, PRT-187260.  The applicant requests a permit to import a complete adult male skeleton of a New Zealand shore plover (Thinornis novaeseelandiae) from the National Museum of New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand, for the purpose of enhancement of the species through scientific research.

Applicant: Delaware Museum of Natural History, Wilmington, DE, PRT-184718.  The applicant requests a permit to export and re-import non-living museum specimens of endangered and threatened species of animals previously accessioned into the permittee's collection for scientific research. This notification covers activities conducted by the applicant over a five-year period.

Applicant: Villanova University, Villanova, PA, PRT-187106. The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples of the Saint Lucia white-breasted thrasher (Ramphocinclus brachyurus sanctaeluciae) from the Forestry Department, Government of Saint Lucia for the purpose of enhancement of the species through scientific research. This notification covers activities conducted by the applicant over a five-year period.

Applicant: University of California, Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA, PRT-172134.  The applicant requests a permit to import biological samples from lesser mouse lemurs (Microcebus murinus) and golden-brown mouse lemurs (Microcebus ravelobensis) collected in the wild in Madagascar, for the purpose of scientific research.

Applicant: Barbara L. Dicely, Occidental, CA, PRT-188631.  The applicant requests a permit to import one male captive-born cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) from the De Wildt Cheetah and Wildlife Conservation Centre, South Africa for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, PRT-188579. The applicant requests a permit to import 29 gorilla (Gorilla gorilla) skulls salvaged from various sources with the approval of the Government of the Republic of Cameroon for the purpose of scientific research.

Applicant: University of Idaho, Moscow, ID, PRT-066574.  The applicant requests a renewal of their permit to import biological samples from European brown bear (Ursus arctos arctos) collected in the wild in Italy, for the purpose of scientific research. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a five-year period.

Applicant: Erik D. Holum, Mitchell, SD, PRT-187827.  The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Gay L. Scott, Nederland, TX, PRT-185773. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: William F. Scott, Nederland, TX, PRT-185771. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Endangered Species Act iAttacked

August 13, 2008  www.nytimes.com  

In its waning months, the Bush Administration is trying to undermine the Endangered Species Act.  This week, the interior secretary, Dirk Kempthorne, proposed a regulatory overhaul of the act that would eliminate the requirement for independent scientific reviews of any project that could harm an endangered species living on federal land.  Instead, federal agencies would decide on their own whether the projects — including construction of highways and dams — pose a  threat and then move ahead if they determine there is no problem. [See Federal Register announcement below – August 15, 2008 Interagency Cooperation Under the Endangered Species Act]  The new regulations would overturn one of the act’s most fundamental provisions. Under current rules, federal agencies are required to submit their plans to either the Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service.  This in effect gives scientists at those agencies the right to say no to any project or, as is most often the case, to require modifications if the project threatens an endangered species. Mr. Kempthorne would now effectively remove these agencies, whose job is to oversee the act, from the process.  The dangers of such “self-consultation” should be obvious.  The Bureau of Reclamation likes to build dams; the Department of Transportation likes to build highways. Protecting endangered species is not their priority. Other agencies, like the Office of Surface Mining or the Bureau of Land Management, have shown themselves far too vulnerable to pressure from the very industries, like mining, they are meant to regulate.  The Endangered Species Act has, on the whole, been successful in arresting the decline of many species that might otherwise have gone extinct. In cases like the bald eagle, it has helped restore the health of a species to a point where it can be removed from the endangered list. But many property owners and commercial interests, including developers and loggers, hate the act because, in their view, it unreasonably inflates costs.  The Bush has gone to great lengths to circumnavigate the clear language of the law by rigging the science (in many cases ignoring their own scientists), negotiating settlements favorable to industry and simply refusing to obey court orders. This time, however, the administration means to rewrite the law itself, albeit through regulatory means.  In 2006, courts struck down a similar if narrower effort to give the Environmental Protection Agency authority to approve pesticides without consulting with the Fish and Wildlife Service or National Marine Fisheries Service. Mr. Kempthorne’s latest assault deserves a similar fate.  The 30-day comment period will commence following the Federal Register announcement in a few days,  after which the department is likely to issue a final rule.

No Baby Panda for National Zoo This Year

August 14, 2008  www.washingtonpost.com   By Michael Ruane

WASHINGTON (AP) — A spike in Mei Xiang's hormone levels in June suggested she might be pregnant again. She was artificially inseminated March 19 with sperm from the zoo's adult male panda, Tian Tian, who fathered Tai Shan, born through A.I. in 2005.  After ovulating, a panda almost always undergoes changes associated with a pregnancy in case she conceives. Even when there is conception, a  panda embryo might "float" for a time before implanting in the uterus  or be reabsorbed into the panda's body and disappear. The zoo said there were some changes in the panda's uterus that could have indicated a pregnancy, but ultrasound tests never showed a fetus.  Over the months, the zoo's panda Web site carefully documented the rise and fall of Mei Xiang's hormone levels, as well as nesting, licking and cradling behaviors that were potential clues to a  pregnancy. But now, hormone levels are back to normal, and zoo scientists and veterinarians say she may have miscarried or possibly had a false pregnancy.  The problem, according to the National Zoo’s panda breeding experts, is one of "alignment." And when natural  mating fails, the zoo must resort to artificial insemination, which works only about half the time.  Its the second time in two years that the zoo's efforts to produce a cub failed. Steven L. Montfort, the zoo's associate director for conservation and science, said the zoo will try again next year. Giant pandas generally ovulate once a  year.There are only about 1,600 giant pandas in the wild and slightly more than 200 in captivity.   But zoo officials urged caution, saying that panda pregnancies, and those in all bears, are difficult to predict. Mei Xiang, 8, has had several previous pseudo-pregnancies, including one last year, when she was artificially inseminated with sperm from Gao Gao, a panda in the San Diego Zoo. Gao Gao was sick this year. She was not inseminated in 2006 because of the birth of her only cub, Tai Shan, on July 9, 2005. Montfort said everything looked good for natural mating this year between Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who both came to the zoo from China in 2000. They were very "vocal" toward each other. But the actual alignment just didn't line up. And it's not like we can physically help with that.

Taiwan Zoo Will Get Pandas from China

August 14, 2008  www.earthtimes.org 

TAIPEI,  Taiwan -- The Government of Taiwan has decided to allow the Taipei Zoo to import two giant pandas from China. The Council of Agriculture (COA) favored the Taipei Zoo over the Leofoo Village Theme Park in Hsinchu, west Taiwan, which has also applied to receive the two pandas China offered Taiwan in 2005.  COA officials said it rejected the application from Leofoo Park because its medical facilities for pandas and tourist education programmes are not as good as those of the Taipei Zoo.  COA could issue import permits to the Taipei Zoo in October at the earlier, but the zoo said the best time to bring the two pandas to Taiwan is between October and March.  The Taipei Zoo has built a Panda Hall and planted bamboo to feed the pandas. One giant panda easts 40 kilograms of bamboo leaves each day. The names given to the two pandas by China mean Reunification (in Chinese, Tuan Yuan means unification). Not every Taiwan citizen welcomes Tuan Tuan and Yuan yuan.  Some Taiwanese see the two pandas as China's propaganda tool to speed up Taiwan-China unification, and conservation groups demand that the two pandas remain in China.  "We oppose transporting the pandas - which face extinction - to a strange environment for commercial purpose. What Taiwan should do is to contribute to panda- related research and let the pandas live in the wild in their natural habitat," seven civic groups said in a statement.

Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo’s Best Australian Exhibit

August 14, 2008  www.journalgazette.net

FORT WAYNE, Indiana -- The Fort Wayne Children's Zoo was named the country's No. 1 zoo for Australian animals and exhibits by the authors of "America's Best Zoos." The zoo's five-acre Australian Adventure exhibit is called "one of the country's largest and best displays of Australian animals" by the book's authors, Allen W. Nyhuis and Jon Wassner. They describe the exhibit as "fascinating" and a "most convincing virtual journey to the 'Land Down Under.' "  Runners-up in the category include Chicago's Brookfield Zoo and the San Diego Zoo.  The local zoo was named a runner-up in the best rides category, just behind the San Diego Zoo and Disney's Animal Kingdom.  The book places the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo among the 60 best zoos  in the United States.  The book's publisher, The Intrepid Traveler, is a privately owned independent travel publishing company based in Connecticut, according to the company's Web site. For more information about the company or the book, go to www.intrepidtraveler.com.

New Outback Exhibit at London Zoo

August 14, 2008  www.telegraph.co.uk/   By Aislinn Simpson

A former home to polar bears at the London Zoo  will now be converted to  an exhibit illustrating how climate change affects animals in the Australian Outback. The Mappin Terrace has been repopulated with 20 wallabies and four emus to demonstrate how difficult it is for animals to survive in the harsh, dry conditions which are likely to become more prevalent as carbon emissions heat up the environment. London Zoo no longer houses polar bears, but the Mappin Terrace has undergone a dramatic transformation to become the site of one of the first climate change educational centres in UK zoos.  ZSL Zoological Director, David Field, said: "Polar Bears have become the symbol of climate change but by transforming this exhibit we can use the zoo's unique history to explain that when it comes to climate change the script is the same, regardless of the cast." When the terrace opened in 1913, it was the first time members of the public could see animals in an arctic environment.  The attraction, billed as "London's only mountain", also played host to a black bear called Winnie who became the inspiration for Winne the Pooh when A.A. Milne visted the zoo with his son Christopher.  Another famous resident was Brumas the polar bear in the 1950s, who propelled visitor numbers up to three millions - a record that stands to this day.

Critical Habitat for San Bernardino bluegrass and California taraxacum

August 14, 2008   www.epa.gov

The USFWS is designating critical habitat for Poa atropurpurea and Taraxacum californicum under the Endangered Species Act of 1973.  Approximately 2,489 acres (ac) (1,009 hectares (ha)) of land in San Bernardino and San Diego Counties, California, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation for P. atropurpurea, and approximately 1,914 ac (775 ha) of land in San Bernardino County, California, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation for T. californicum. This rule becomes effective on September 15, 2008.  The final rule, final economic analysis, and map of critical habitat will be available on the Internet at http:// www.regulations.gov . Supporting documentation we used in preparing this final rule, will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760-431-9440; facsimile 760-431-5901.  For further information contact: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office

SF Zoo Euthanizes Hippo

August 14, 2008  www.sfgate.com   By John Coté

SAN FRANCISCO -- A 46-year-old African Nile hippopotamus known as Mama Cuddles was euthanized Wednesday at the San Francisco Zoo.  She arrived in 1963 from the Philadelphia Zoological Gardens at the age of 1. Nile hippos live up to 45 years in the wild, and often a few years longer in zoos, according to the National Zoo.  For the past three years, Cuddles has received arthritis medication daily and pain medicine as needed. On Tuesday, she had a great deal of difficulty controlling her hind legs and was not walking or moving well.  Despite additional care from zoo veterinarians, Mama Cuddles continued to weaken and could not stand up on her back legs.  Cuddles' death comes more than a year after her longtime mate, Puddles, died. Puddles displayed signs of respiratory distress and had difficulty standing after the pair was moved by crane to temporary quarters in the old Pachyderm Building while their habitat  was revamped. Puddles was 44 years old. Cuddles showed no ill effects at the time of that May 2007 move.  She mothered 16 calves as part of a program designed to maintain a genetically diverse population of vulnerable species in captivity for education and conservation efforts, zoo officials said.  The African Nile hippo is considered a vulnerable species with an estimated worldwide population between 125,000 and 150,000 - a decline of 20 percent since 1996. Cuddles is the second zoo animal to die in less than three weeks. A pregnant 9-year-old giraffe died July 29. A necropsy showed several problems, including enlarged lymph nodes, inflammation within the giraffe's gastrointestinal tract and more than 100 black masses throughout the body, but zoo officials said further tests were required to determine the cause of death.

Bison Reintroduction to Alaska

August 14, 2008  www.economist.com

In 1983, the last herd of bison numbered 300. Now they are being slowly reintroduced into the wild.  As many as 200,000 bison are currently raised commercially, to satisfy a growing demand for a meat that is leaner and richer in protein than beef. But wild bison, which are held in federal and state preserves, number fewer than 20,000.  The first reintroduction will probably take place in Alaska, where the Wood Bison, a larger cousin of the more familiar Plains Bison, is waiting to clear a two-year quarantine for brucellosis. The Wood Bison was also hunted to the point of extinction before a few were saved. For the current plan, Alaskan wildlife authorities imported a number of the animals from Canada. When the bison are released in 2010 the herd will be protected from hunting until the population re-establishes itself. Introduction in other states will be harder and will take much longer. About half of Yellowstone National Park’s 3,000 bison have been exposed to brucellosis. Bison straying beyond the park boundaries into cattle-grazing lands have been slaughtered or chased back inside. Any bison found to have the disease is killed. Since last autumn as many as 1,600 Yellowstone bison have been shot outside the park.

The present effort now focuses first on eliminating the brucellosis threat. Cattle-ranchers, who have worked hard to eliminate the disease from America, fear that the wild bison will infect their herds and damage the industry, particularly the overseas market. Some environmentalists counter that there is no recorded case of bison-to-cattle transmission. One proposal, which would keep the animals more separate, would replace cattle with bison on federal grazing lands. Some wildlife groups are raising funds to purchase tracts of land for future herds.  Native Americans have a big stake in the reintroduction. For many Plains tribes the bison was the centre of their existence, spiritual as well as physical. If all goes well, the first bison could be sent to a reservation later this year. There they will serve five years’ probation before, if all goes well, being returned to the wild.

Big-brained animals evolve faster

August 14, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Evolutionary biologists have wondered why some lineages have diversified more than others. A classical explanation is that a higher rate of diversification reflects increased ecological opportunities that led to a rapid adaptive radiation of a clade. However, is it possible that biological diversification not only depends on the properties of the environment an ancestral species finds itself in, but also on the features of the species itself? Now a study supports this possibility, suggesting that possessing a large brain might have facilitated the evolutionary diversification of some avian lineages.  Over 20 years ago, Jeff Wyles, Allan Wilson, and Joseph Kunkel proposed that big brains might favor adaptive evolutionary diversification in animals by facilitating the behavioral changes needed to use new resources or environments, a theory known as the behavioral drive hypothesis. When these authors formulated their hypothesis, evidence that the size of the brain limits the cognitive capacity of animals were scanty. Since then, however, a substantial body of evidence has confirmed that animals with larger brains, relative to their body size, have more developed skills for changing their behavior through learning and innovation, facilitating the invasion of novel environments and the use of novel resources. Now, ecologist Daniel Sol of CREAF-Autonomous University of Barcelona and evolutionary biologist Trevor Price of the University of Chicago, provide evidence for such a role in birds in an article in the August issue of The American Naturalist. Analyzing body size measures of 7,209 species (representing 75% of all avian species), they found that avian families that have experienced the greatest diversification in body size tend to be those with brains larger than expected for their body size. These include the Picidae (woodpeckers), Bucerotidae (hornbills), Psittacidae (parrots), Strigidae (owls), Menuridae (lyrebirds) and Corvidae (crows). Brain size can promote morphological diversification because it facilitates range expansions and speciation, yet the analyses indicate that the brain-diversification association is statistically independent of geographic range and species richness. "The most likely alternative," Daniel Sol states, "is that big brains enhance the rate of evolutionary diversification by facilitating changes in behavior, which would place new selection pressures on populations and favor adaptive divergence." Thus, in species with high cognitive styles, behavior might be, along with environmental factors, a major driving force for evolution.

Understanding Bluetongue Outbreaks

August 14, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

AMSTERDAM– A recent article published in Virology (www.elsevier.com/locate/yviro ), reports the identification of a bluetongue virus strain that caused the northern European Bluetongue outbreak in 2006. Comparison of the virus strain with the sequences of other previously isolated strains showed that it originated in sub-Saharan Africa, rather than from vaccine strains or strains circulating in southern Europe.  Bluetongue (BT) disease or catarrhal fever is a non-contagious, insect borne viral disease of ruminants, mainly sheep. It is characterized by high fever, excessive salivation, swelling of the head and neck which can lead to cyanosis of the tongue (after which the disease is named). BT is caused by the bluetongue virus (BTV) and due to its economic significance BTV has been the subject of extensive molecular, genetic and structural studies. The disease has been observed in Australia, the USA, Africa, the Middle East, Asia and southern Europe. Its occurrence is seasonal in the affected countries, subsiding when temperature drop and hard frosts kill the midges that transmit the disease. It has been spreading northward since the late 90s, perhaps as a result of global warming.

In August 2006, the record temperatures experienced in northern Europe coincided with the first outbreak of BT in the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, and much of Germany. In the article Peter Mertens and 24 co-authors from six different institutes describe the sequence analysis of the full genome of this BTV strain and compare it to other BTV strains (Virology, doi:10.1016/j.virol.2008.04.028). Their results indicate that despite the high levels of nucleotide identity with other European strains, it represents a new strain introduction, originating from sub-Saharan Africa. "Such timely and increasingly important insights into the origins of emerging viruses will lead not only to an increased understanding of how viruses like BTV spread, but also to rational vaccine development", said Barbara Sherry, one of the Editors of Virology.

West Nile Virus in San Diego County

August 14, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com 

Urban counties throughout the state are reporting more problem pools. An increasing number of pools are turning slimy green from the algae that grow once owners turn off the filters to save cash or lose their properties through foreclosure. Bill Reisen, a research entomologist whose lab at the University of California Davis is testing 1,000 groups of mosquitoes weekly for West Nile virus, said swimming pools may be a growing source of virus-carrying mosquitoes. Dry conditions should have eliminated the normal breeding grounds found in wetlands, riverbeds and other such habitats. “The end of the issue will be to have someone buy these houses and take care of the pools properly,” Reisen said.  On weekly flyovers, county environmental health officers have spotted nearly 900 of these “green” pools since May. The algae attract mosquitoes that lay their eggs on the surface, and in a few days adult insects emerge, bothering residents and potentially spreading the deadly West Nile virus.  Last year, the county's vector-control program received 2,149 mosquito-related complaints or service requests. To get a handle on all potential mosquito breeding grounds, the county has stepped up its aerial surveillance and visits to properties with green pools.  Information: The county Department of Environmental Health operates the region's 
vector-control program with the goal of eradicating mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus and other diseases. Information is available at (888) 551-INFO and sdfightthebite.com. The California West Nile virus Web site is westnile.ca.gov.  Free fish: Free mosquito-eating fish are available from the vector-control program's office at 9325 Hazard Way, Kearny Mesa; (858) 695-2888.  So far this year, the number of green pools sighted by helicopter has sometimes reached 80 to 100 in a two-or three-hour flight compared with 20 a year ago. Many are found in Chula Vista, Escondido and Oceanside, where foreclosures have been high.

Interagency Cooperation Under the Endangered Species Act

August 15, 2008   www.epa.gov               

SUMMARY: The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) propose to amend regulations governing interagency cooperation under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (Act). The Services are proposing these changes to clarify several definitions, to clarify when the section 7 regulations are applicable and the correct standards for effects analysis, and to establish time frames for the informal consultation process.  Comments must be received by September 15, 2008 to ensure their full consideration in the final decision on this proposal.  Please submit comments through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov or by U.S. mail to Public Comment Processing, Attention: 1018-AT50, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203. We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov. For further information contact: Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, 1849 C Street, NW., Washington, DC 20240; telephone: 202-208-4416; or James H. Lecky, Director, Office of Protected Resources, National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910; telephone: 301-713-2332.


The Endangered Species Act of 1973, provides that the Secretaries of the Interior and Commerce share responsibilities for implementing most of the provisions of the Act. Generally, marine species are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of Commerce and all other species are under the jurisdiction of the Secretary of the Interior   There have been no comprehensive amendments to the Act since 1988.  With the exception of two section 7 counterpart regulations for specific types of consultations, there have been no comprehensive revisions to the implementing section 7 regulations since 1986. Since those regulations were issued, much has happened.  The Services propose these regulatory changes in response to new challenges we face with regard to global warming and climate change. On May 15, 2008, Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced that he would propose common sense modifications to the section 7 regulations to provide greater clarity and certainty to the consultation process.

 A 2004 GAO report on interagency collaboration during section 7 consultations found that the process, is contentious between the Services and action agencies. In particular, find the process burdensome. The GAO concluded that, given the unique requirements and circumstances of different species, a ``healthy dose of professional judgment'' from the Services would always be required, meaning there would always be some disagreements. Nevertheless, the GAO also concluded that the process could still be improved, and specifically recommended that the Services and other Federal agencies ``resolve disagreements about when consultation is needed.

The proposed regulations respond to this recommendation by allowing a variety of documents prepared for other purposes to suffice for initiating consultation, and by allowing for action agencies to determine the effects of their own actions, without concurrence from the Service, in some very specific narrow situations. In addition, we propose to clarify the appropriate causation standard to be used in determining the effects of agency actions. Finally, we propose relatively minor procedural changes to ``informal'' consultations, including inserting time frames into the informal consultation process.  Go To: http://www.epa.gov/EPA-SPECIES/2008/August/Day-15/
Proposed Changes to 50 CFR Part 402: Modification to the following definitions will be made: ``Biological Assessment.''  ``Cumulative effects.'' ``Effects of the action.'' ``essential cause'' of that effect. ``effects of the action'' to further explain that ``reasonably certain to occur'' is the standard used to determine that an effect will happen.

Section 402.03 Applicability: This proposed section would define the applicability of these regulations. The current regulations state that section 7 applies to ``all actions in which there is discretionary Federal involvement or control.'' 50 CFR 402.03.  We propose to add new language to this section to delineate when section 7 is not applicable

Section 402.13 Informal Consultation: We have retained this section for those cases when an action does not satisfy the criteria of 402.03(b) or the action agency seeks the Services' expertise. We propose to add language that informal consultation can include ``a number of similar actions, an agency program, or a segment of a comprehensive plan.''

Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations

August 15, 2008   www.epa.gov

The USFWS proposes special migratory bird hunting regulations for certain Tribes on Federal Indian reservations, off-reservation trust lands, and ceded lands for the 2008-09 migratory bird hunting season. We will accept all comments on the proposed regulations that are postmarked or received in our office by August 25, 2008. You may submit comments on the proposals by one of the following methods:   Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov  U.S. mail : Public Comments Processing, Attn: 1018-AV62; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.  We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on For further information contact:  Ron W. Kokel, Division of Migratory Bird Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, (703) 358-1714.

Hercules the Gorilla Dies at Dallas Zoo

August 15, 2008  www.chron.com

DALLAS — A 43-year-old male gorilla went into cardiac arrest and died following a medical procedure for degenerative spinal disease, Dallas Zoo officials said Thursday.  "Hercules was almost 44 years old and for gorillas that are in their 40s and 50s every day is a blessing," said Chuck Siegel, the zoo's deputy director for animal management. Hercules, a Western lowland silverback, had been placed under anesthesia and given pain killers, steroids and analgesics. Zoo officials managed to get a heartbeat back after he went into cardiac arrest following an attempt to change his position but Hercules died at 4 p.m. Wednesday.  The zoo now has one approximate 18-year-old male, Patrick, and four females — Jenny, Timbo, Makena and Tufani. At approximately age 55, Jenny is the world's oldest gorilla on record, Timbo is 44, Makena is 9 and Tufani is 18  Of the roughly 360 gorillas in North American zoos, only four were over the age of 50 in May. All of them are female. Hercules came to the zoo in October 1993 from the zoo in Baltimore. He was known to be standoffish and solitary, Mr. Siegler said.  He attacked a 25-year-old zoo keeper in November 1998 when the door to his cage was left open. He was tranquilized with a dart gun after the zoo keeper, Jennifer McClurg, escaped. The attack lasted more than a half-hour, leaving her with more than 30 puncture wounds.

Debate Over Moving Dallas Zoo’s Elephant

August 15, 2008  www.nytimes.com  By JAMES C. McKINLEY JR

DALLAS — Jenny, the elephant was orphaned in Africa at a young age, shipped to America and sold to a circus, where a trainer beat her to coerce her to perform.  When the Dallas Zoo took her in 22 years ago, she was a mess. For years, she suffered from depression and something like post-traumatic stress disorder, mutilating herself with her tusks, snapping steel cables, slamming her head into walls and requiring heavy medication.  Now, Jenny has become the focus of a debate about what to do with an aging elephant with a troubled mind. In May, after her latest companion died of heart failure, the zoo quietly made arrangements to send her to the Africam Safari Park in Puebla, Mexico, where she would be placed in a new five-acre exhibit with another female elephant.  But that decision sparked a firestorm in Dallas. Local protesters, world-renowned elephant experts and national animal rights groups are crusading to have her sent to a 2,700-acre sanctuary in Tennessee where 17 other traumatized elephants are kept in seclusion.

Beyond the debate about what to do with Jenny lies a national struggle between zoos and animal rights groups who, frankly, would rather see a world without elephant exhibits. The fight pits a loose coalition of elephant experts and animal rights advocates against the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, a powerful private group based in Maryland that accredits zoos in North America. Animal rights advocates have long argued that elephants in most zoos lack enough space and, as a consequence, suffer from foot ailments, arthritis and psychological problems.  For its part, the zoo association has clung to its traditions, saying the size of an enclosure matters less than the care elephants receive from zookeepers. It has also tried to keep the 300 elephants in its network of more than 78 zoos from being sent to sanctuaries, where the zoos could no longer use them for breeding.

The City Council and The Dallas Morning News have been inundated with letters. The uproar has put the Dallas Zoo on the defensive. The director, Gregg Hudson, had said in June that sending Jenny to Mexico was a done deal, but now zoo officials are backpedaling. But a spokesman for the zoo, Sean Greene, said Africam Safari Park remained the zoo director’s top choice. Founded in 1972, the Mexican animal park uses the same hands-off, gentle handling techniques that the Dallas Zoo adopted in 1996, after one of Jenny’s worst periods. Indeed, keepers from Dallas helped train the Africam staff several years ago. The Mexican zoo also plans to acquire another African elephant, to live with Jenny, as well as a bull elephant in the future. But some Dallas residents say the zoo’s arguments do not hold up. The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tenn., has 300 acres just for African elephants, and Jenny, who is 32, would be the fourth to arrive, said the founder, Carol Buckley. No one except the staff visits the animals, who range freely.

Experts in the field say zoo directors are cliquish and tend to move animals to other zoos in their association rather than considering the benefits of a sanctuary, which many zoo officials see as part of an anti-zoo movement. The association can also make or break a zoo director’s career “If we stripped everything away and say what is in the best interest of Jenny, the sanctuary would win hands down,” said Les Schobert, a retired curator of animals at the Los Angeles Zoo. “But then you have to add in all the politics.” Amy Camacho, general director of Africam, said the transfer seemed to make sense. Her park, which was recently accredited, was seeking African elephants to strengthen its collection, and the Dallas Zoo had a troubled elephant. Mike Keele, a curator at the Oregon Zoo who is also chairman of the zoo association’s elephant “species survival program,” signed off on the deal. “I like keeping these elephants within the A.Z.A. where they meet our standards,” Mr. Keele said. “Space is just a catchphrase. It’s what you do with that space.”

Louisville Zoo Silverback is Euthanized

August 15, 2008  www.courier-journal.com

Frank, a 44-year-old silverback male western lowland gorilla, was euthanized yesterday, He suffered from chronic arthritis and heart disease and high blood pressure.  Born in the wild in Cameroon, Africa, in 1964, Frank lived most of his life at Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo. He was moved to the Louisville Zoo in 2002 for the opening of Gorilla Forest. Frank was the third oldest gorilla at the Gorilla Forest. Only female Helen, age 50, and male Timmy, age 49, are older.

Jerusalem Zoo Turtle Gets Wheels

August 15, 2008  www.monstersandcritics.com

JERUSALEM  - Keepers at Jerusalem's Biblical Zoo found a unique way to give new zest to a turtle who was depressed and lethargic because his paralyzed hind legs made him slow, even for his species.  The turtle refused to eat much, move or show even a turtle-like interest in his surroundings.  The solution was to screw a pair of wheels onto the rear of his shell. The reptile is now happily moving about on his custom-made turtle wheelchair and interacting, as much as turtles do, with his environment.

Amazon Fund Lauched

August 15, 2008  www.enn.com 

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - An international fund to protect the Amazon forest was launched by Brazil this month.  The $100 million initially pledged by Norway would only have a marginal impact on deforestation even if it was repeated for 20 years, said Carlos Nobre, a senior scientist at the National Institute for Space Research.  But by setting a precedent for alternative investments in the Amazon, the fund could stimulate sustainable industries such as rubber and latex that are potentially many times more lucrative than the now-dominant cattle and timber industries. "That kind of money is not going to change anything. However, I see these initial funds as important elements to create a new economic paradigm for the Amazon," Nobre said. "It is much more important they (the funds) are used to develop alternatives, not only for law enforcement," he said. "Otherwise, it will be very difficult even with large inflows of money to protect the forest because you almost need a police state, you almost need the army deployed all over the Amazon. "It just postpones deforestation but it's not a final solution. The final fix is to create a new economy that can give jobs to several million people."  President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva signed a decree establishing the new fund, which aims to raise $21 billion over 13 years to finance conservation and sustainable development.  Nobre said the Amazon could create a market for 50 to 100 sustainable products from only a handful now.

Sweets Make Young Horses Harder to Train

August 15, 2008  www.montana.edu 

BOZEMAN -- Young horses may be easier to train if they temporarily lay off the sweets, says a Montana State University study where two-year-olds wore pedometers, wrist watches and Ace bandages.  A commercial mixture of corn, oats, barley and molasses -- sometimes called "sweet grain" or "sweet feed" -- gives horses the glossy coat and lively spirit that makes them attractive to prospective buyers, said Jan Bowman, an animal nutritionist at MSU. But the extra energy provided by sweet grain during the early stages of training made the horses in MSU's study more disobedient and fearful than horses that only ate hay, Bowman said. The grain-eaters spent more time resisting the saddle. They startled easier. They bucked and ran more during training. Early training, which usually lasts about 30 days, gives young horses the foundation they need for more advanced training, Bowman said. They learn to move sideways on command, for example. They learn how to move their front or hind feet in any direction. The study involved 12 closely-related quarter horses that came from one Idaho ranch, Bowman said. Black trained the horses for three weeks, five days a week at MSU's Miller Livestock Pavilion. Half the horses ate only hay. The hay was a mixture of grass and alfalfa. The other horses ate five pounds of sweet grain a day in addition to the hay. Both groups ate as much hay and drank as much water as they wanted. Each horse wore a pedometer adjusted to its stride and attached with an Ace bandage to its left front leg above the knee, Bowman said. Each horse also had a combination wristwatch-heart monitor hanging from its saddle. The watch displayed minimum, maximum and mean heart rates detected by an electrode belt. Black trained the animals for 30 or 40 minutes a day without knowing which animal had eaten grain and which one hadn't, Bowman said. She and Black then recorded heart rates and the number of steps the horses took during training. They scored behaviors like obedience, get-up-and-go and separation anxiety.

Horses that ate both grain and hay became more upset when they were separated from the herd, Bowman said. They whinnied more and were livelier and less submissive than the horses that ate only hay. The study doesn't mean that trainers should keep grain away from horses forever, Bowman said. They might consider withholding it just during the early weeks of training. "We don't want to give the impression that you should starve them in order to enhance their good behavior," Bowman said. "That's not the point of it." Wade wrote in his paper that, "Horses, being ridden by less experienced riders, need to be calm and easy to handle, characteristics that may be enhanced by more effective early training." Bowman noted that all of the horses in MSU's study gained weight during the study. It didn't matter if they ate hay alone or hay with grain. For related stories, see http://ag.montana.edu/excellence/aglink/AgLinkSpring07.pdf

New Bird Species From Gabon

August 15, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Scientists at the Smithsonian Institution have discovered a new species of bird in Gabon, Africa, that was, until now, unknown to the scientific community. Their findings were published in the international science journal Zootaxa today, Aug. 15.  The newly found olive-backed forest robin (Stiphrornis pyrrholaemus) was named by the scientists for its distinctive olive back and rump. Adult birds measure 4.5 inches in length and average 18 grams in weight. Males exhibit a fiery orange throat and breast, yellow belly, olive back and black feathers on the head. Females are similar, but less vibrant. Both sexes have a distinctive white dot on their face in front of each eye. The bird was first observed by Smithsonian scientists in 2001 during a field expedition of the National Zoo's Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity Program in southwest Gabon. It was initially thought, however, to be an immature individual of an already-recognized species. Brian Schmidt compared  several specimens with those the museum's bird collection in 2003. When he compared them with other forest robins of the genus Stiphrornis in the collection, Schmidt immediately noticed differences in color and plumage, and realized the newly collected birds might be unique. To ensure that the specimens Schmidt collected were a new species, geneticists at the Smithsonian's National Zoo compared the DNA of the new specimens to that of the four known forest robin species. The results clearly showed that these birds were in fact a separate and distinct species.

Discovering an unknown mammal or bird species is far from a common event. Before the 20th century, the rate of discoveries was great—several hundred new species were being described each decade. Since then, however, the pace has slowed and new species of vertebrates are generally only found in isolated areas.  Now officially recognized, the olive-backed forest robin brings Gabon's number of known bird species to 753. Other than its existence, however, little is known to science about this newcomer. There is some knowledge about the species' habitat choice since all of the birds seen and heard in the wild were found in dense forest undergrowth. Other facts such as specific diet, mating and nesting habits, and the species' complete habitat range are all things that still need research. "This discovery is very exciting for us," said Alfonso Alonso, who directs the Biodiversity Program in Gabon. The opportunity to study areas the tropics of Gabon allows scientists to learn about the organisms that live there and in turn develop plans to protect them in the future. "Finding the olive-backed forest robin strongly underscores the importance of our research. This helps us show the conservation importance of the area." Although less vibrant than the male olive-backed forest robin, this female still exhibits a bright orange and yellow throat and distinctive white dot in front of each eye.

The MAB program is part of the Center for Conservation Education and Sustainability at the National Zoo. This particular study in the program is being conducted in the Gamba Complex of Protected Areas, a coastal region in southwestern Gabon containing the Loango and Moukalaba-Doudou National Parks with a restricted-access industrial corridor between them.  Scientists in the program are assessing the species diversity of the region, conducting applied research on the impact of management and development and providing biodiversity education programs locally to guide the regional conservation strategy. The program has partnered with the Gabonese government and Shell Gabon to integrate biodiversity conservation into energy development. The partnership has produced the first in-depth study of rainforest biodiversity in this area of Central Africa, provided relevant scientific advancements on the effects of development on biodiversity and identified conservation strategies for the long-term management of the area. "Although finding an unknown species like the olive-backed forest robin was not the goal of the MAB project," Schmidt said, "it is definitely a reminder that the world still holds surprises for us."

WWF’s Animal Olympics

August 2008 

Different species have adapted different athletic abilities to succeed in their respective environments, from running fast to chase prey to swimming great distances in search of food and safety. And the medals go to the...

Cheetah for sprinting - The world’s fastest land mammal, and the most unique and specialized member of the cat family. Speeds of up to 112kph (70mph). With approximately 10,000 left in the wild, the cheetah is endangered throughout its range in southern and eastern Africa due to habitat loss, reduced prey and poaching.

Tiger for high jumping - Tigers can leap as high as 5m (16ft) and as far as 9-10m (30-33ft), making them one of the highest jumping mammals.  Only about 4,000 remain in the wild, most in isolated pockets spread across increasingly fragmented forests stretching from India to south-eastern China and from the Russian Far East to Sumatra, Indonesia. The world has lost 3 of the 9 tiger subspecies in the past century - the Bali, Caspian and Javan tigers have all become extinct.

Leatherback turtle for diving - Scientists have recorded leatherback turtles descending as deep as 1,230m - the deepest dive ever recorded for a reptile. They are also excellent swimmers, finding their way as far north as Alaska and as far south as Africa's Cape of Good Hope. They are listed as critically endangered.

Polar bear for swimming - Polar bears are excellent swimmers and can sustain a pace of 10kph (6.2mph) in cold icy waters by using their front paws like oars while their hind legs are held flat like a rudder. They can swim for several hours at a time over long distances - some have been tracked swimming continuously for 100km (62 miles) - and can stay under water for as long as 2 minutes. Scientists believe polar bears may disappear in the wild within 100 years if global warming continues unabated.

African elephant for weightlifting - No land animal on Earth can lift as much weight as the African elephant, which can pick up a one-tonne weight with its trunk. Their versatile trunk, an extension of the upper lip and nose, is used for communication and handling objects including food.

Rhinoceros for fencing - Rhinos use their horns to spar with each other, defend themselves and their young against predators, and to dig for water and forage for food.

Humpback whale for gymnastics - Despite their huge size, humpback whales are quite acrobatic, often found leaping out of the sea and making a big splash when they hit the water. They also compete well in the swimming category, making extensive seasonal migrations between high-latitude summer feeding grounds and low-latitude wintering grounds.

Giant panda for eating! - While not breaking any records for speed or climbing, the panda can consume an impressive 12-38kg of bamboo a day to meet its energy requirements.

BirdLife’s Bird Olympics

August 2008    www.birdlife.org/olympics

DIVING: Which bird species has been recorded diving to a depth of 540m?  -- The Emperor Penguin  Emperor Penguin Aptenodytes forsteri has been recorded diving to a depth of 540m and is the deepest diving bird. It can also hold it’s breath for the longest period of any bird at 18 minutes! 
HIGH JUMP: Which bird species has been recorded flying at a height of 11,274 m?  --  Rueppell's Vulture has been recoded flying at an amazing height of 11,274 m (7 miles) and is the worlds highest flying bird.
MARATHON: Which bird species travels an average of 64,000 km (40,000 miles) during their migration period? --  Sooty Shearwaters Pufinus griseus undertake annual journeys of 64,000 km during their migration period – the longest known migration of any animal!
WEIGHT  LIFTING:  What bird species below can not only lift, but also fly with prey weighing up to 6.8 kg? -- The Bald Eagle Haliaeetus leucocephalus has been recorded lifting a 6.8 kg (15 lb) Mule Deer.
SPRINT: The fastest speed by a human sprinter is held by Usain Bolt for his 200 m World record of 19.30 seconds - equivalent to 37.3 km / hr. What is the fastest bird species -- Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus

NY Zoo Allows Visitors to Pet Elephants

August 15, 2008   www.rnntv.com

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) - Rosamond Gifford has one of the nation's top Asian elephant breeding programs, and visitors can once again pet the elephants there after state officials reversed an earlier ban.  In April, state regulators ordered the Rosamond Gifford Zoo to stop people from petting the elephants, saying the zoo's license prohibited visitors from touching any endangered species.  After some negotiations, the state Department of Environmental Conservation allowed the zoo to amend its license.  Asian elephants are endangered in the wild, where only about 50,000 survive.

Panda Evolution and Natural Selection

August 15, 2008 www.msnbc.msn.com   By Lizzie Buchen

To obtain sufficient nutrients, pandas must eat almost a fourth of their weight in bamboo every day. They  also favor young bamboo sprouts, which have even less nutrition;  and if they eat only these, they must chomp down almost half of their weight daily. They have to spend the majority of their time sitting, eating, scratching, and defecating (about 40 times per day) because of their extremely inefficient bamboo diet.  According to Megan Owen, a conservation specialist at the San Diego Zoo, there is a possible evolutionary explanation: lack of competition. When pandas split off from the bear lineage about 3 million years ago, meat, fruit, and nuts may have been difficult to obtain while bamboo was ubiquitous — a wide-open ecological niche. The panda accommodated its vegetarianism with a few physical adaptations — enlarged chewing muscles, their famous "thumbs," and a slightly modified digestive system (though still far more similar to a carnivore's than to an herbivore's). But the most notable adaptations were behavioral. Pandas must minimize energy expenditure in every aspect of their lives: limiting locomotion and mating periods, having a low surface area-to-volume ratio (i.e., being fat) to conserve heat, and sleeping as much as possible. Energy conservation also explains their endearingly tiny and helpless young: According to Lisa Stevens of the Smithsonian National Zoological Park, it is much more efficient to give birth to very small, undeveloped cubs and raise them externally on milk than to expend energy on their development internally.

Duluth Zoo Faces Uncertain Future

August 17, 2008  www.startribune.com
DULUTH, Minnesota -- A zoological society was formally established in 1959 to help with the operation and improvement of the Duluth Zoo. It runs the zoo gift shop, concessions and ticket sales, raises money for capital projects, provides education and outreach programs and  organizes special events.  But the zoo posted a $617,368 loss last year.  Now Mayor Don Ness wants to turn the zoo over to the private, nonprofit society by year's end to help reduce the city's budget deficit. He feels that the city can no longer afford to run a zoo.  Last year a national zoo planning firm recommended that the Duluth zoo go to a public-private partnership like what Ness has proposed. The city would continue to own the zoo, but the society would operate it.  Schultz & Williams said zoos in Houston, Kansas City and Seattle have successfully moved to such arrangements.  Being successful will require bringing in more money — from donors, event sponsors, grants and visitors.  Zoo attendance has declined in recent years: from 128,000 people in 2001 to a few more than 100,000 last year. Attracting more visitors will require offering something new. While the zoo won't have money anytime soon to build new exhibits, Sam Maida, executive director of the Lake Superior Zoological Society, said it may be able to modify some. Or it could follow the lead of some zoos and bring in new animals for a season.  Another challenge is a maintenance backlog. The AZA pulled the zoo's national accreditation in 2006, saying Duluth had "severely" underfunded building repair and maintenance. The costs of addressing the AZA's 
concerns were estimated early last year at nearly $2.4 million, costs that are expected to increase by 5 percent for each year the work is delayed.

Mirror self-recognition in magpies

August 18, 2008  www.eurekalert.org
It has been argued that self-recognition is a hallmark of advanced cognitive abilities in animals. It was previously thought that only the usual suspects of higher cognition—some great apes, dolphins, and elephants—were able to recognize their own bodies in a mirror. In this week's issue of PLoS Biology, psychologist Helmut Prior and colleagues show evidence of self-recognition in magpies—a species with a brain structure very different from mammals.  The researchers  subjected the magpies to a mark test, wherein a mark is placed on the subject's body in such a way that it can only be seen in a mirror. When the magpies engaged in activity that was directed towards the mark (e.g. scratching at it), the researchers were able to conclude that these birds recognized the image in the mirror as themselves, and not another animal.  These findings not only indicate that non-mammalian species can engage in self-recognition behaviour, but they also show that self-recognition can occur in species without a neocortex. This area is thought to be crucial to self-recognition in mammals, and its absence in this case suggests that higher cognitive skills can develop independently along separate evolutionary lines. Mammals and birds have developed vastly different brain structures, and future studies will be able to further examine how these structures converge to produce similar cognitive abilities.

Shortest Lived Vertebrate?

August 18, 2008  www.nytimes.com   By Natalie Angier

The entire life span of the Furcifer labordi chameleon — from conception to development in the egg, hatching, maturation, breeding — is barely a year. The chameleon may be the shortest-lived tetrapod on Earth, a creature chronologically more like a butterfly or a sea squirt than like the other reptiles, frogs, birds and mammals with which it is taxonomically related.  Equally bizarre, said Christopher J. Raxworthy, an author of the new report that appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, it spends some two-thirds of its existence as an egg buried in sand, with a mere 16 to 20 weeks for all post-shellular affairs.  the chameleons  operate by a synchronized schedule, hatching, growing, mating and dying at more or less the same times and at the same pace throughout the year. As a result, said Dr. Raxworthy, associate curator of herpetology at the American Museum of Natural History, “if you go into a forest during the dry season, the whole population of chameleons there will be represented by eggs.” “There are about a dozen lizard species known to be short-lived,” said Kristopher B. Karsten of the zoology department at Oklahoma State University, another author of the report. “But there are always some that make it to the next year, so the species’ maximal longevity is greater than one year.”

Galapagos Penguins Could Get Avian Malaria

August 19, 2008 www.nytimes.com   By ERICA GIES

A parasite has been found in Galápagos penguins, raising fears among researchers that it could lead to avian malaria, a disease that contributed significantly to the 50 percent extinction rate of  endemic birds in Hawaii.  The discovery resulted from a long-term study to monitor diseases in Galápagos birds, conducted by researchers from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, the St. Louis Zoo, Galápagos National Park and the Charles Darwin Foundation. Unlike Hawaii and other remote island archipelagos, the Galápagos, 600 miles off Ecuador, retains 95 percent of its original species and all of its birds. “It’s about the best record that exists on Earth,” said Patty Parker, a professor of zoological studies at the University of  Missouri, St. Louis, who discovered the parasite in the penguins. Ninety-seven percent of the land is protected, and the surrounding waters are one of the world’s largest marine reserves.  Dr. Parker said the parasite was in the genus Plasmodium, which includes several malaria-causing species. The recently discovered  parasite appears to be a new species and is so far unnamed.  The parasite was probably introduced by human activity, as tourism has increased to 140,000 visitors in 2006 from 40,000 in 1990.That has drawn immigrants from mainland Ecuador who work in the tourist industry, driving the population to an estimated 30,000 from about 8,000 in 1990.  The number of invasive insects arriving on the islands,  has increased “exponentially.” Tourism accounts for 51 percent of the economy, according to a Darwin Foundation report. Researchers do not yet know if the Plasmodium species in the penguins is a threat, and the birds seem healthy. That could be because that particular Plasmodium species does not cause malaria, or waiting to explode in the penguins during periods of stress, like a food shortage, or the rainy El Niño.  The mosquito may be Culex quinquefasciatus, a species of mosquito that arrived in the Galápagos in the mid-1980s.  The other possibility is Ochlerotatus taeniorhynchus, a mosquito that may be native to the archipelago. 

Montgomery Zoo's New Baby Elephant is Orphaned

August 19, 2008  www.montgomeryadvertiser.com   By Teri Greene

A male African elephant calf born early Thursday morning at the Montgomery Zoo was the second elephant calf born at the zoo within the past year. After giving birth, the elephant calf's 23-year-old mother became ill and died Saturday.  Preliminary necropsy results in dicate that Mary, one of the zoo's per manent elephant herd, died from complications due to colic with intes tinal rupture.  Zoo Director Doug Goode said offi cials do not believe the elephant's death was related to the birth. He said female elephants, commonly referred to as cows, can suffer from some of the same deadly conditions that af fect their male counterparts. "We are waiting on tissue reports that will take about two to four weeks. At that time, we will be able to make a better assessment."  Deputy Director Marcia Woodard said the baby elephant is being bottle-reared and, if it thrives, will be inte grated with the rest of the herd, which now numbers four.  Though orphaned animals of oth er species have been left to the care of zoo staffers in the past, bottle-feeding and constant monitoring of a new born elephant is a first-time experience for Montgomery Zoo keepers. "We have to watch his needs from day to day and adapt to them."  Woodard said the zoo is in close contact with professionals from fel low zoos that are part of the Associa tion of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), including those in Baltimore, San Diego, Toledo, Tampa and others. The elephant that sired the newborn is currently on loan to the Montgom ery Zoo from Tampa's Lowery Park Zoo.

The Bronx Zoo's Official Photographer

August 19, 2008  www.nydailynews.com   BY TANYANIKA SAMUELS

Julie Larsen Maher, 49, is the official photographer for the Wildlife Conservation Society, based at the Bronx Zoo. She spent last weekend at the Central Park Zoo with the polar bears as they lapped up their ice cakes during the annual “Chill Out” event.  Maher became the WCS’s main photographer in 2005. She is the first woman to hold that title in its 110-year history.  Using her digital cameras, she travels the world documenting the natural beauty of wildlife, landscapes and foreign cultures for the WCS global conservation programs.  Maher also works to capture behind-the-scenes images of the more than 16,000 animals at its five wildlife parks.  She played an integral role in the Bronx Zoo’s new Madagascar exhibit. She made several trips to the island off the southeastern coast of Africa documenting the flora and fauna so that artists could replicate the environs for the popular exhibit.  Photography has been a hobby of hers since her days at Iowa State University. When digital photography took off, Maher took it up and started working with the conservation society’s field staff.  She is credited with expanding the photography post to include more field work abroad.

Debate Over Apes ‘Humanity’

August 19, 2008  www.courant.com   By BARBARA J. KING

In 1996 a toddler fell over a railing, 24 feet down, into the gorilla enclosure of the Brookfield Zoo, unconscious, among seven apes.  Binti Jua, an 8-year-old female gorilla, picked up the boy, and, carried him along with her own infant, to zoo staff.  The event can still be seen, if in grainy video, on YouTube.  This exhibition of reasoning and empathy is in sharp contrast to Russell Paul La Valle's recently published argument that the Spanish Parliament should not award human rights to apes.  He asserts that apes are "irrational, amoral."  In expressing reasoning and empathy, Binti Jua was not unique; nor was her behavior an artifact of zoo life. Wild chimpanzees plan ahead and carry tools to work sites, where they crack open hard-shelled nuts with wood and stone hammers. They choose sides thoughtfully in ongoing competitions for status and reward friends' loyalties while exacting revenge on their enemies. When close companions suffer wounds or injuries, wild chimpanzees groom and care for them.  Captive orangutans modify their own gestures according to how much a human companion seems to comprehend their requests. Bonobos use a symbol-laden computer keyboard to discuss with their caretakers plans for the day, as well as to make promises about being "good."  The apes that I have described, and many more that my fellow primatologists write about, are neither irrational nor amoral. The zoologist and ethologist Frans de Waal has argued that the origins of morality can be found in our primate cousins, and my own anthropological work suggests that the evolutionary roots of today's human religiosity can be found in the ape world.

Alexandria Zoo Director Dies

August 19, 2008  www.natchezdemocrat.com 

NATCHEZ, Mississippi -- Leslie Whitt, 56, director of the Alexandria Zoo since 1974, has died of heart complications at Ochsner Medical Center in New Orleans.  The recipient of a donated heart in 1994, Whitt took that opportunity to live life with all of the gusto he could.  He built that zoo into what it is today.

Octopuses have "arms" and "legs"

August 19, 2008  latimesblogs.latimes.com  By Francisco Vara-Orta

A new study published by a chain of commercial aquariums reports that octopuses have 6 arms and 2 legs.  Helped by over 2,000 observations by visitors, its been established that the creatures seem to favor their first three pairs of tentacles for grabbing and using objects.   "One can assume that the front six tentacles have the function of arms, and that the back two take over the function of legs," said Sea Life biologist Oliver Walenciak.  Unlike humans and some other animals, most octopuses did not appear to be left-handed or right-handed. Those that were, suffered from eye problems on their less-favored side.

Musk-Oxen, Caribou Could Help Warming Arctic

August 19, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com  By Mason Inman

As carbon dioxide levels continue to increase, the Arctic is heating up faster than almost anywhere else.  This additional warmth will likely boost the growth of woody shrubs at the expense of grasses,  according to the study published online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  "Keeping musk-oxen and caribou in the picture will help maintain other components of the Arctic as we know it, or at least moderate the effects of global warming," according to study leader and Pennsylvania State University researcher Eric Post.  Post and Christian Pedersen, also at Penn State, used plots in western Greenland to measure the effects of these grazing animals.  Although large grazers are sparsely spread across the Arctic—altogether there are about five million caribou and tens of thousands of musk-oxen—they eat enough plants to shape the ecosystem.  Shrubs are darker and absorb more heat, so if they spread due to continued global warming, this would create a "positive feedback" that makes the warming worse. By preventing or delaying this change, grazers could help temper the warming of the planet, said Arctic ecologist Greg Henry of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.  "This could be a very important finding as some predictions of effects of the increased shrub cover are equivalent to doubling the [atmospheric] CO2 again," Henry said.

Münster Zoo Gorilla Carries Dead Baby

August 19, 2008  www.independent.co.uk   By Toni Paterson

Gana, a female gorilla at the Münster zoo was a poor mother to her first offspring last year, and zookeepers intervened after 6 weeks, taking the female infant, named Mary Zwo to a veterinary hospital where she was treated for dehydration and exposure. Mary Zwo was never returned to her mother and has lived at a zoo in Stuttgart with four other gorillas ever since.  This time, Münster Zoo rejected the idea of stepping in to save her second offspring, Claudio. Zoo staff said that at first they had hoped that Gana would treat Claudio better that Mary Zwo. The baby had developed normally until a few weeks ago and had played actively with a nine-month-old gorilla in the enclave. Then Claudio became noticeably frail last week. Keepers attempted to revive him with baby food contained in a child's plastic beaker they poked through the bars of his cage and on Friday, he was reportedly still taking his mother's milk. "After that he went rapidly downhill," said one of his keepers.  Jörg Adler, 61, the director of the zoo, said he died on Saturday.  Now Gana refuses to relinquish the corpse.  Pictures of her carrying the corpse on her back are flooding German media.  In the wild, gorillas have been known to carry around the corpses of their offspring for days after they have died.

Whales, Dolphins, Sonar and the Courts

August 19, 2008 www.nytimes.com 

The Navy and conservation groups have reached a court-approved settlement that allows the service ample opportunity to test its low-frequency sonar systems while protecting the habitats of marine life that can’t tolerate loud underwater sound. But the Bush administration is still trying to block the courts’ ability to mediate future agreements between the military and environmentalists. The administration told the Navy that it could test its sonar in more than 70 percent of the world’s ocean area. It claimed that training on the loud, low-frequency devices, which can detect submarines at great distances, was important to national security and that any environmental damage would be minimal. However, the same sound waves that can detect distant submarines can also bombard marine habitats, near and far, disrupting the activities of whales, dolphins and other acoustically sensitive creatures.  Fortunately, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other organizations sued to rein in the exercises, and a federal court in California issued injunctions and supplied the judicial muscle to force a mediated settlement. The agreement, approved this month, still allows the Navy to test its sonar in large areas in the Northwestern Pacific and around Hawaii while carving out segments that are critically important for marine life.

Mexico Begins Campaign to Save Porpoise

August 20, 2008  news.yahoo.com  By Dan Keane, AP

ENSENADA, Mexico - Also known as the Gulf of California porpoise, the elusive vaquita was only discovered in 1958.  Mexico plans to invest 163 million pesos ($16 million) to save this highly endangered species of porpoise in the upper Gulf of California. The population of the vaquita marina — Spanish for "little sea cow" — has dwindled to 150 or fewer from more than 500 a decade ago. It rarely jumps from the water and avoids boats, so an accurate population count difficult.  Plans include paying fishermen to avoid the porpoise's habitat or give up drag nets that drown dozens of the shy, dolphin-like animals each year. Some will even be paid to stop fishing forever.  Some US$13 million of the funds will go directly to families along the upper gulf. Working fishermen will be paid US$4,500 each to stay out of the nature preserve covering most of the vaquita's habitat.  The government will also grant fishermen up to US$35,000 to learn safer techniques, such as catching shrimp with traps too small to ensnare the porpoises. Others will receive as much as US$60,000 for handing over their boats, motors and licenses and quitting the trade completely. The Intercultural Center for the Study of Desert and Oceans, a U.S.-Mexican institution that will help survey the porpoise population this fall. The vaquita also is threatened by the dwindling flow of the Colorado River into the gulf. Depleted by western U.S. cities for drinking water, the river carries high levels of agricultural runoff that can significantly alter the gulf's chemistry.

Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Moves Elephant Sculptures

August 20, 2008  www.cleveland.com  By Michael Sangiacomo

Cleveland artist Viktor Schreckengost, died in January at age 101. He received worldwide fame for his work and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bush in a ceremony at the White House in 2007.  In 1956 he created massive wall sculptures of mastodons and mammoths at the Cleveland Zoo Elephant House.  Now the zoo is removing and restoring the walls and will incorporate them in the new zoo entrance, scheduled for completion in 2010. This work precedes the building of a new state-of-the art elephant habitat that will include a combination of new and remodeled buildings as well as an outdoor area for six to 10 elephants. It will be four times the size of the current facility and cost $25 million, the zoo's largest capital improvement project since the opening of the RainForest in 1992.  Sometime after Labor Day, the zoo's three female African elephants will be moved to the Columbus Zoo for the duration of the renovations.  It will cost about $1 million and take several weeks to move the sculptures to the Intermuseum Conservation Association in Cleveland, where they will be cleaned, repaired and stored.

Marine Turtle Conservation Conference

August 20, 2008  www.enn.com 

BALI / BANGKOK - An innovative regional agreement is beginning to turn the tide for marine turtles.  A new report, prepared for a forthcoming meeting in Bali of 27 signatories to a region-wide turtle conservation agreement, gives the most comprehensive picture to date of how well countries have been tackling these problems.  Douglas Hykle, who coordinates the agreement's activities from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) office in Bangkok, said national reports clearly show signatory states are making efforts to monitor, manage and protect their marine turtle populations.  Australia has multi-million dollar programmes in place to support the development of community-driven approaches to turtle conservation and to find solutions to the problem of ghost nets.  Indonesia is carrying out advanced research to identify interactions between fisheries and turtles and to work with industry to mitigate impact.  The Seychelles has devised innovative approaches to involve the private sector in practical conservation measures. Official delegations from more than 30 countries are expected to attend the Bali conference.

Prague Zoo Builds Lookout Towers for Vistors

August 20, 2008   www.praguepost.com    By  Curtis M. Wong

PRAGUE, CZ -- The U Čeňku park in Prague 14 will cover 170 hectares, making it the city's largest park.  It is hoped that the new recreational park will help to boost the city’s sagging tourist numbers.  It will also include a botanical garden, special sports facilities, horse pastures and an inline skating route. Another key component will be a new lookout tower,  a miniature golf course, a volleyball court and a children’s playground, will be added gradually. These will assist in  making the park attractive for out-of-town visitors as well.  The cost of the U Čeňku project will be approximately 350 million Kč ($21.9 million), although a final design firm for both the park and  its tower has yet to be selected. Furthermore, the plans are awaiting final approval from City Hall’s planning and zoning department, although no complications are currently anticipated.  The new lookout tower at U Čeňku is actually one of two such structures that will soon grace the city skyline. On Aug. 11, Prague Zoo officials announced plans to construct a similar tower on the northern segment of its property that would provide panoramic views of the zoo, the Vltava River, Prague Castle and beyond. Zoo officials say they hope the tower will welcome its first guests in early 2009.  “We are a city-based zoo and our main customers are Czech families with children, some of whom visit several times in one year,” said Vít Kahle, the zoo’s spokesman, adding that entry to the tower will be included in zoo admission. “For them, I think the new tower will be a great benefit. It will be located in one of the zoo’s nicest areas and will hopefully be another good reason to spend time at the zoo.”  Like the tower on Petřín Hill, which was built as a one-fifth scale model of Paris’ Eiffel Tower, the zoo’s tower will be built as a replica of the 17-meter tower that once stood in Jizerské hory mountains in north Bohemia. Construction will begin in mid- September and is expected to wrap by January 2009.

Clouded Leopard Population Found in Bornean Forest

August 21, 2008  www.physorg.com 

Camera traps in Sebangau National Park in Central Kalimantan province have snapped pictures of two adult male Bornean clouded leopards in an area once decimated by logging.  The discovery was made by researchers from Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit and Indonesia's Pangkalan Raya University and it is the first confirmation the clouded leopard, which is classified as vulnerable, lives in the park. The species, which numbers less than 10,000 individuals is the top predator on Borneo island, according to British zoologist Susan Cheyne "The clouded leopard is the largest predator on Borneo, there are no tigers. Having the island's top predator surviving in an ex-logging concession hopefully means that the species is resilient."

New Species of Giant Fish Identified

August 21, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Researchers from the University of Hawaii, the Wildlife Conservation Society, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, National Marine Fisheries Service and Projecto Meros do Brazil discovered a new species of fish—a grouper that reaches more than six feet in length and can weigh nearly 1,000 pounds. This newly discovered species can be found roaming the tropical reefs of the Eastern Pacific Ocean. It turns out that goliath in the Atlantic—which inhabit the tropical waters of the Americas and western Africa—are not the same groupers that swim in Pacific waters, even though they look identical. "For more than a century, ichthyologists have thought that Pacific and Atlantic goliath grouper were the same species. The genetic data were the key to our finding: two species,”  said Dr. Matthew Craig of the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, lead author of the study.  Previously known as Epinephelus itajara The new Pacific species is now classified as Epinephelus quinquefasciatus. E. itajara is currently listed as critically endangered to extinction in the World Conservation Union's Red List of Endangered Species,  and E. quinquefasciatus may also be considered critically endangered.

Zoological Society Welcomes Giraffe and Rhino

April 21, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com

SAN DIEGO – A Masai giraffe was born Tuesday at the San Diego Zoo, and some visitors got to watch as the tall calf came into the world.  The calf was born following a two-hour labor and started nursing about an hour after birth.  The calf weighed 145 pounds and measured 6 feet 2 inches tall.  Abby and baby have been introduced to the zoo's herd, which includes dad Silver. On Thursday, the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park released a photo of a black rhino calf who was born at the park July 17.  This baby weighs about 150 pounds. It is the 12th black rhino born at the park and the third calf born to parents Lembi and Jambia, park officials said. The Wild Animal Park has the most successful captive breeding program for rhinos in the world, park officials said.

Dallas Zoo’s Elephant, Jenny Will Stay

August 21, 2008  www.dallasnews.com    By RUDOLPH BUSH and JOANNA  CATTANACH

A pitched controversy over the Dallas Zoo's last remaining elephant took an unexpected turn Wednesday when zoo officials recommended that the animal remain in Dallas and that a new 4-acre elephant habitat be fast-tracked for completion.  Jenny, a troubled African elephant who has lived at the Dallas Zoo for 22 years, would be too traumatized by a planned move to a zoo in  Mexico, officials told the Dallas City Council.  For weeks, animal rights activists have staged protests over the plan to send Jenny to Mexico and have urged council members to send her instead to a private nature sanctuary in Tennessee.  Paul Dyer, director of the Dallas Park and Recreation department, said Jenny's health, not the protests, drove the decision to keep her here.  "She's very happy right now. She's doing well, and she seems to be comfortable and secure," Mr. Dyer said.  Jenny's mental state has long been a concern for her keepers. The 32-year-old elephant spent the first 10 years of her life in the hands of an abusive owner and has a long history of  psychological trouble.  The death in May of Keke, the zoo's other elephant and Jenny's longtime companion, raised concerns that Jenny's mental state would again decline.  That propelled the decision to move her to a facility with other elephants.  Now, the zoo plans to seek another female elephant to join Jenny as soon as possible,  in the zoo's elephant exhibit,  less than a quarter of an acre.  Zoo officials also will accelerate plans to build a larger $10 million  elephant habitat that could house as many as four elephants, Mr. Dyer said.  The habitat, part of a new $40 million African Savanna exhibit, will be completed in spring 2010 rather than mid-2012 as planned, he said.  AZA is helping Dallas Zoo officials identify a companion for Jenny. Officials are eager to have the new elephant in the zoo by November.

Three dogs break into El Paso Zoo

August 21, 2008  www.elpasotimes.com    By Adriana M. Chávez

EL PASO - Two animals at the El Paso Zoo were mauled and killed late Wednesday by three dogs.  A pronghorn antelope and a sandhill crane were killed at about 11:45 p.m. Wednesday by two pit bulls and a German shepard, said zoo spokeswoman Liz Kern. Zoo employees were alerted to the attack by "barking and animal distress noises" in the American Grasslands exhibit.  El Paso police and Animal Control officers responded to the scene, but the dogs managed to exit the zoo via a canal area by the zoo's Boone Street gate, Kern said. Zoo officials suspect that the dogs dug under a chainlink fence to enter the zoo, then jumped over a rock wall to enter the exhibit.  Zoo staff inspects fences every other week to make sure they are secure, and security drills are in place in case the fence shows signs of a disturbance, said Kern, who added that fence inspections will now take place weekly as a result of the attack.  A similar attack involving the same pronghorn antelope took place five years ago, Kern said.

Zoo Atlanta Panda May Deliver Twins

August 21, 2008  www.13wmaz.com

ATLANTA -- With predictions that Lun Lun, Zoo Atlanta's female giant panda, could give birth in a week to 10 days, the zoo's panda watch team is preparing for twins.  Just last week, the Chengdu Center's foremost expert in the care of twin panda cubs arrived at Zoo Atlanta.  "We've got three cameras in the den with her, currently," said Zoo Atlanta panda keeper Kate Roca. "It allows us to see what she's doing from all angles."  And while possibly pregnant Lun Lun is now sleeping 90 percent of the time, Kate stays focused.  Kate and the Zoo Atlanta panda watch team are seconded by Yang Kway Shing -- an expert in twin panda births from the Chengdu Panda Center.  Historically in about half of the panda births, the mom gives birth to twins. This year about 80 percent of the panda births have been twins.  "Usually the mom rejects one of the two twins," said Zoo Atlanta president and CEO, Dennis Kelly. "That's very normal in nature. She doesn't have enough energy to take care of twins. But with the Chinese we've come up with a scheme that saves the twin, the rejected twin, almost all the time."  Yang Kway Shing will execute that scheme.  "Right after the second cub birth, we will pull the second cub," Yang said through an interpreter. "We'll put the cub into the incubator and then if it's possible we'll try to swap the 
cub." But...all this depends on whether Lun Lun is actually pregnant. Up to the moment of birth, not even a sonogram can tell whether the pregnancy is real or pseudo.

PETA May Buy SeaWorld

August 21, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com   By Michael Stetz

SAN DIEGO – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wants to buy SeaWorld. Their plan would be to replace the killer whales, dolphins, stingrays and other animals with virtual reality exhibits.  The group won't identify their donor., sayiing he chooses to remain anonymous, according to Lisa Wathne, a PETA spokeswoman.   When news broke that SeaWorld's current owner, Anheuser-Busch, is poised to be swallowed by the larger beer giant InBev, a Belgium firm, experts speculated that InBev would divest itself of Anheuser-Busch's 10 theme parks and concentrate on beer once the sale is final. The parks could be worth as much as $4 billion. The company sold SeaWorld Ohio for $110 million in 2001.  While a company would normally prefer to sell the entire theme-park package to a single buyer, InBev may be willing to sell the parks piecemeal, said Jack Russo, an analyst with the investment firm Edward Jones.  PETA sent a letter Friday to InBev's CEO spelling out the deal, but hasn't heard back.  SeaWorld spokesman Dave Koontz called PETA's effort “a publicity stunt.”  At least one marine mammal expert, Lee Kellar of the Alaska SeaLife Center, said releasing marine mammals back into the wild is “a very difficult transition” because the animals would still need the care of humans.

Mammals Have "Alarm Detectors" in Noses

August 21, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com  By James Owen

Many plants and animals emit airborne molecules called alarm pheromones, which alert them to dangers such as predators. Now a team from the University of Lausanne in Switzerland has identified how mammals detect these pheromones - a microscopic ball of cells in the nose called the Grueneberg ganglion.  The Grueneberg ganglion was first identified in 1973 in various types of mammals, including rodents, cats, apes, and humans. Although these mammals probably all have a nose for danger,  the discovery has only been made so far in mice.  The new discovery—to be reported tomorrow in the journal Science—was made during a study of the Grueneberg ganglion in mice using physiological techniques. "The ganglion is the only [smell] sub-system that's completely functional at birth, so we were thinking it was important for nipple finding for the baby mouse," said study co-author Marie-Christine Broillet.  But after numerous tests for nipple finding and other possible functions, the team found that the ganglion played a role in danger communication.

Why Secondary Sex Characteristics Evolved

August 22, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

MADISON --  In 1860, Charles Darwin confessed: "The sight of a feather in a peacock's tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!"  In his struggle to explain why such extravagant and seemingly burdensome features existed, the great English naturalist struck upon the idea of sexual selection -- that showy traits such as the Peacock's ornamentation were an advantage in the mating game that outweighed other disadvantages.  A team of Wisconsin scientists has turned from the question of why such male traits exist to precisely how they evolved. They have worked out the molecular details of how a simple genetic switch controls decorative traits in male fruit flies and how that switch evolved. By extension, the work explains the mechanics of how the male lion got his mane, how the bull moose acquired such an impressive set of antlers and how the peacock got its magnificent tail.  The study appears in the latest edition (Aug. 22, 2008) of the journal Cell. "Males and females basically have the same set of genes, so how do you specifically modify the activity of a male's genes but not a female's genes?"  The answer apparently resides in the genetic repression of a protein in the male fruit fly that permits it to color the tail end of its abdomen. "The flies did not need new genes to make a new pattern," Carroll says. "They just changed how males and females use a common set of genes."  The genetic switch that governs expression of the protein, Carroll notes, is ancient and originally evolved for an entirely different purpose, but over time mutations accumulated, perhaps in response to sexual selection, that drove the evolution of male flies with more colorful derrieres.

Extreme Recycling: Zoo Doo

August 22, 2008  www.livescience.com   By Audrey Amara

Some zoos in the U.S. offer an exotic way to fertilize their gardens through a unique method of recycling waste from zoo animals.  At the Louisville Zoo in Kentucky where the mix is called Zoo Poopy Doo, the product consists of hoof stock manure from animals including elephants, rhinos, camels and giraffes. This is blended with hay, straw and wood shavings. Sales have been held in the zoo parking lot where interested persons could support the zoo and recycling for $30 a scoop. The Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle has been offering their product, ‘Zoo Doo’ since the early 1990's. A Zoo Doo web page describes the creation process in detail  As with the spring fecal festival offered at the Louisville Zoo enthusiasts at the Woodland Park Zoo have the same idea. Every spring and fall bulk amounts of Zoo Doo can be purchased, which is an improvement on the year-round availability of the 2 gallon, or 1 pint amounts offered in the zoo's store for $12.95 and $4.95 respectively.

Not every zoo offers this exotic fertilizer fashion. At the Sacramento Zoo representatives say that the zoo is too small a facility to be able to even consider this alternative means of waste disposal. Nor is it offered at the larger San Diego Zoo, but paper and frames made from elephant poop are sold in the gift shop for those who are interested in more unconventional ways of recycling.  In addition, an educational based "Poop Show" is offered daily and nightly in the amphitheater at the animal park, which aims to educate individuals about the huge amount of waste produced by animals. Their motto as stated on the calendar online sums it up. "If we can recycle poop, we can recycle anything."  Companies have also come and gone. The Memphis based Zoo-Doo compost company featured in the New York Times article "Fashionable Fertilizer Solves a Disposal Problem For Zoos," in May of 1992 no longer exists. For the time being zoos' like San Diego are contributing to the zoo doo revolution in other ways – by offering "Elepoo" T-shirts and books on the subject

Philippine Crocodiles at Chester Zoo

August 22, 2008 www.chesterchronicle.co.uk  by Michael Green

Two 10-year-old Philippine Crocodiles, one of the rarest of crocodilian species, are making their home in Chester Zoo’s Tropical Realm.  Richard Gibson, Curator of Lower Vertebrates and Invertebrates, said:  “Philippine Crocodiles are surprisingly agile and are noted for their acrobatic ability. “They can also be extremely aggressive, particularly towards each other, which is why our pair are currently being kept separately.”

Panda for Zoo Negara

August 22, 2008  news.asiaone.com

Zoo Negara officials will go to China this October to discuss the possibility of bringing a panda home.  In exchange, Malaysia will give an orangutan to China. Zoo Negara Malaysia is managed by the Malaysian Zoological Society

Endangered Species Permit Applications

August 22, 2008    www.epa.gov  

The public is invited to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species.  Comments or requests must be received by September 22, 2008. Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, Virginia 22203; fax 703/358-2281. For further information contact:  Division of Management Authority, telephone 703/358-2104.

Applicant: Metro Richmond Zoo, Moseley, VA, PRT-189831. The applicant requests a permit to import two male captive-bred cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) from the De Wildt Cheetah Breeding Center, South Africa for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati, OH, PRT-185761. The applicant requests a permit to import various biological samples from captive-held and wild Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) from the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary, Indonesia for the purpose of scientific research and veterinary health evaluation. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a five year period.

Applicant: Martin K. Slaugh, Salt Lake City, UT, PRT-189851. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

August 22, 2008   www.epa.gov  

The public is invited to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Comments or requests must be received by September 22, 2008.  Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, Virginia 22203; fax 703/358-2281. For further information contact: Division of Management Authority, telephone 703/358-2104.

Applicant: The Phoenix Zoo, Phoenix, AZ, PRT-185747. The applicant requests a permit to import one male jaguar (Panthera onca) from Centro Ecologico de Sonora, Mexico, for the purpose of scientific research and enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, NY, PRT-184950. The applicant requests a permit to import one captive born male snow leopard (Uncia uncia) from the Tierpark Berlin, Berlin, Germany, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: John E. Yeagle II, Stansbury, UT, PRT-181041. The applicant requests a permit to import the sport-hunted trophy of one male bontebok (Damaliscus pygargus pygargus) culled from a captive herd maintained under the management program of the Republic of South Africa, for the purpose of enhancement of the survival of the species.

Applicant: Hawthorn Corporation, Grayslake, IL, PRT-182592, 182594, 182595, 182596, 058658, 058659, 058660, 058662, 058663, 058664, 058665, 058666, 058667, 058668, 058669, 058681, 058683, 058685, 058736, and 058780.   The applicant requests permits to re-issue and issue for export/re-export and re-import tigers (Panthera tigris) to worldwide locations for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education. The permit numbers and animals are: [New--182592, Sherkan; 182594, Sissy; 182595, Java2; 182596, Bo; Re-issue permits--058658, Sampson; 058659, Neena; 058660, Samira; 058662, Tibor; 058663, Delhi; 058664, Bihar; 058665, Jasmine; 058666, Kiki; 058667, Nakita; 058668, Vijay; 058669, Fabra; 058681, Obi; 058683, Amira; 058685, Mona; 058736, Ravi; and 058780, Ceasar]. This notification covers activities to be conducted by the applicant over a three-year period and the import of any potential progeny born while overseas.

Issuance of Permits by USFWS

August 22, 2008   www.epa.gov 

Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, subject to the requirements of the Privacy Act and Freedom of Information Act, by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, Virginia 22203; fax 703/358-2281. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Division of Management Authority, telephone 703/358-2104.

Permit               Applicant                            Federal Register notice           Issue Date
171630       Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical    73 FR 21980; April 23, 2008.      June 27, 2008.
180709       Dr. M.K. Gonder, Univ., at    73 FR 29144; May 20, 2008        July 25, 2008.
                        Albany, SUNY, NY.
181813       Conservators' Center, Inc...  73 FR 31709; June 3, 2008...      July 17, 2008.

032027 &    Monterey Bay Aquarium.......  72 FR 70339; December 11,     July 25, 2008.
690038         U.S. Geological Survey,       73 FR 36891; June 30, 2008..    July 31, 2008.
                           Alaska Science Center.

Polar Bears Found Swimming Miles from Coast

August 22, 2008  www.enn.com 

An aerial survey by government scientists in Alaska’s Chukchi Sea this week found at least nine polar bears swimming in open water — with one at least 60 miles from shore — raising concern among wildlife experts about their survival.  The discovery came as the US Minerals Management Service was conducting marine surveys in the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas in advance of potential offshore oil development.  Geoff York, the polar bear coordinator for WWF's Arctic Programme, said that when polar bears swim so far from land, they could have difficulty making it safely to shore and are at risk of drowning, particularly if a storm arises. “As climate change continues to disrupt the Arctic, polar bears and their cubs are being forced to swim longer distances to find food and habitat.”  Some experts predict this year’s sea ice loss could meet or exceed the record set last year. Professor Richard Steiner of the University of Alaska’s Marine Advisory Program said: “While these bears are swimming around in an ice-free coastal Arctic Ocean, the only thing the State of Alaska is doing is suing the federal government trying to overturn the listing of polar bears.

Elephant Gait Study

August 22, 2008  jeb.biologists.org

A new study by John Hutchinson from The Royal Veterinary College, London, analyzes the way Asian and African elephants and the way they move. Collaborating with elephant keepers at Colchester and Whipsnade Zoo, Hutchinson used 3D capture technology to film the animals.. After the team had stuck hemispheres covered in infrared reflecting tape to joints on the elephants' fore and hind limbs, the animals were happy to walk and run in front of the arc of infrared detecting cameras as Hutchinson and his team filmed their steps at speeds ranging from 0.62 m/s to 4 92m/s. 'The big problem was keeping the markers in place,' says Hutchinson, 'the little ones kept on pulling them off with their trunks.' Having filmed animals ranging in size from 521 to 3512kg, Hutchinson, Lei Ren and Charlotte Miller travelled to Thailand to film the athletic elite; Thai racing elephants that easily outpaced the UK elephants at 6.8m/s. Ren converted each elephant's movements into stick figures, and found that their legs are not as columnar as previously thought, with the shoulder, hip, knee and elbow joints flexing significantly. As the elephants swung their front legs forward they also flicked their feet up, bending their wrists by more than 80°, to keep them clear of the ground. Meanwhile, the elephants' ankles were far more rigid. Unable to bend the ankle as they swung their legs, the animals moved them out in an arc, to avoid dragging their hind feet along the ground. However, it was a different matter when the team analysed their joints during the stance phase; the apparently rigid ankle was relatively spring-like, while the previously flexible wrist became rigid while supporting the animal's weight. The study appears in The Journal of Experimental Biology on August 22 2008 at http://jeb.biologists.org

Conservation Messages and Motivation

August 22, 2008   jcr.wisc.edu

People are more likely to reuse hotel towels if they know other guests are doing it too. A new study in the Journal of Consumer Research examined participation rates in a towel re-use program designed to reduce unnecessary laundering. Authors Noah J. Goldstein (University of Chicago), Robert B. Cialdini, and Vladas Griskevicius (both Arizona State University) found that the types of signs posted in hotel bathrooms had different effects. Signs that focused on the environmental benefits were less effective than signs that pointed out the level of participation of other guests.  “These experiments are aimed at better understanding the factors that motivate consumers to engage in actions for the benefit of the environment. This important topic, along with pro-social behavior in general, is a severely understudied area of consumer research,” explain the authors.

Powerful Donor Motivators for Fundraising

August 22, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

People are more likely to donate to pledge drive appeals when fundraisers tap into peoples' desire to help others, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research. Donors are also more likely to respond to appeals that involve negative emotions than pitches about benefits to the donor.  Authors Robert J. Fisher (University of Alberta), Mark Vandenbosch (University of Western Ontario), and Kersi D. Antia (University of Wisconsin-Madison) examined scripts for pledge breaks at a public television station. "The research findings suggest that viewers donated because they felt an obligation to do so—people expect self- or social censure if they don't help when they feel empathy for a person or organization they care about," they write.  Prevailing wisdom holds that people are generally selfish. Yet when it comes to donation appeals, it seems that potential donors are motivated by appeals that involve the benefit to others: the station, the community, or specific groups of people other than themselves.  The authors' research involved close examination of scripts for four fundraising campaigns for a public television station. There were 584 scripts and 4,868 appeals in total. The researchers categorized the appeals into types (commercial-free programming, funding cuts, premiums or gifts for donors). In addition to comparing the promotional tactics, the researchers also coded each appeal for its emotion value. Donors responded better to negative appeals—such as those that mentioned funding cuts to the station—than joyful ones.  The researchers note that shame can be powerful motivator. "Failing to help under these conditions often leads to shame, which is a powerful negative emotion that is experienced when there is an inconsistency between a person's actual and desired self." "Paradoxically, it is by helping others that we derive self-benefits in the form of enhanced self-esteem and social approval—serving others connotes valued human traits including compassion, cooperativeness, and kindness," the authors conclude.

When Charities Ask for Time, People Give More

August 22, 2008  jcr.wisc.edu

According to new research in the Journal of Consumer Research, simply asking people a question about whether they're willing to volunteer their time leads to increases in donations of both time and money.  "Because time consumption is associated with emotional experiences, thinking about donating time reminds people of the happiness achieved through helping others," write authors Wendy Liu (UCLA) and Jennifer Aaker (Stanford). They explain that the effect cannot be explained by guilt about not donating time, since people first asked to donate time agree to donate more money and more time than other groups.  The researchers conducted three separate studies, which yielded similar results. In the first study, participants completed an online survey and then read a statement about lung cancer and the American Lung Cancer Foundation's mission. Half of the participants were asked how much time they would like to donate to the foundation and half were not asked. Then all were asked how much money they would donate to the foundation. The participants who were asked to donate time eventually pledged more than those who weren't asked: $36.44 versus $24.46.

Mexico Considers Downlisting Bighorn Sheep

August 22, 2008  www.kristv.com 

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- The New Mexico's state Game Commission is proposing to downlist the desert bighorn sheep is rebounding.  The Department of Game and Fish's biennial review, now covers more than 100 of the state's species that are facing threats to their habitat and seeing their numbers dwindle. Elise Goldstein, a bighorn sheep biologist with the department, said "Managing an endangered species and seeing it recover is rare. By the time something's listed as endangered they're in such dire straits it's so hard to bring them back at that point. Getting to that point, unfortunately, is a death sentence for many species."  Desert bighorn sheep once roamed mountain ranges in New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and northern Mexico, but disease, habitat change, predation and other factors left the species in poor shape. By 1940, there were only two populations of desert bighorn sheep in New Mexico. The state put the sheep on its endangered species list in 1980 and started a restoration program.  Now there are more than 400 desert bighorn in New Mexico _ more than three times the number recorded when the sheep were at their lowest in 2001, when Goldstein said things had reached a crisis.  Department officials credit an aggressive transplant program in which captive-bred desert bighorn have been released in a handful of mountain ranges in central and southern New Mexico. The other factor has been a mountain lion management program. After putting radio collars on the sheep, biologists were able to determine that 85 percent of the known causes of mortality resulted from lion depredation.  The number of mountain lions killed to reduce depredation on the endangered species has been "quite small" since the department started the control program in 2001, Goldstein said. In fact, the department takes an average of 3.3 lions per year per mountain range where the sheep reside.

Mexican Gray Wolf Conservation

August 22, 2008  www.nytimes.com 

The Wolf Conservation Center started as an educational center in 1999 with four wolves born in captivity, and has now transformed its mission. In the last few years it has emerged as one of the few centers in the country dedicated exclusively to wolf conservation and education. Since 2002, the center has participated in national species survival and recovery plans for Mexican gray and red wolves, which are among the rarest mammals in North America. The long-term goal is that at least some of the wolves born and housed on the center’s property will return to the wild. The 25 Mexican gray wolves now there, according to Maggie Howell, managing director of the Wolf Conservation Center, amount to one-sixteenth of the total Mexican gray wolf population.  Deborah Heineman, the center’s executive director, said that only 400 Mexican gray wolves live worldwide, and only 7 existed before the endangered species protections of the 1970s.  The center’s efforts reflect a nationwide recovery project for wolves, whose numbers in the lower 48 states plunged from their pre-Colonial height of about 250,000 to 1,000 or fewer by the 1970s, Ms. Howell said.

USGS Updates Wildlife Mortality Events

August 22, 2008  www.nwhc.usgs.gov

USGS and a network of partners across the country document wildlife mortality events in order to provide timely and accurate information on locations, species and causes of death.  This information is used by natural resource managers, researchers, public health officials and  legislators  to help design disease prevention and mitigation strategies, to address interconnections between human, domestic animal and wildlife disease, and to assist in identification of 'normal' disease issues vs. biosecurity concerns.  These data are not all-inclusive. Information on some outbreaks may not be received until months or years after the event, but efforts continue to make the information as complete as possible. For information on previous wildlife mortality events and events that used to be on this page, please see the Quarterly Mortality Reports.

Global Biodiversity Observing System

August 22, 2008  www.sciencemag.org  By R. J. Scholes, et al

Biodiversity is a composite term used to embrace the variety of types, forms, spatial arrangements, processes, and interactions of biological systems at all scales and levels of organization, from genes to species and ecosystems, along with the evolutionary history that led to their existence. In part because of this complexity, universally applicable measures of biodiversity have proven elusive. Commonly used measures, such as the number of species present, are strongly scale-dependent and only reveal a change after species have been lost. The need for national to global-scale biodiversity measurements has been highlighted by the adoption of a target to "reduce the rate of loss of biodiversity by 2010" by the 190 countries that are parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

The Group on Earth Observations (GEO) was launched in 2002 in response to the widely identified need for adequate information to support environmental decision-making. GEO is a voluntary partnership of 73 national governments and 46 participating organizations. It provides a framework within which these partners can coordinate their strategies and investments for Earth observation. The GEO members are establishing a Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS, www.earthobservations.org  ) that provides access to data, services, analytical tools, and modeling capabilities through a Web-based GEO Portal (www.geoportal.org  ). GEOSS has identified nine priority "societal benefit areas" in its first decade. Biodiversity is one of them. U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and DIVERSITAS, the international programme of biodiversity science, will lead the planning phase of GEO BON, in collaboration with the GEO Secretariat.  Many local, national, and international activities exist to record various genes, species, and ecosystems, as well as the services they provide to society. GEO BON aims to create a global network from these efforts by linking and supporting them within a scientifically robust framework  It is estimated that the final total cost could amount to €200 million to €500 million (U.S. $309 million to U.S. $772 million) per year. Because much of this is already committed in national agencies, the additional cost of global networking and gap-filling will be much more modest. The costs would be spread across many nations and organizations and phased in over a number of years.

'Olympic Pandas' Stay Longer in Beijing

August 23, 2008   www.chinadaily.com.cn

The eight pandas flown to Beijing in May to add cheer to the Olympics are doing well and will probably stay in the capital until the end of the year, which is when their quake-damaged home in Sichuan province is likely to be rebuilt.  Zhang Jinguo, the zoo's deputy chief said the bears, aged between 1 and 2, had all put on 1.5 to 2 kg in weight during their stay.  When they first arrived, the cubs had only poor appetites and ate just 2-3 kg of bamboo a day, he said.  "But now their appetites are much better and they have put on weight."  The pandas also eat carrots and apples, and drink milk, which helps them keep their shiny fur, he said."They are fully adapted to the climate and life here," Zhang, said.  The cubs are in a newly expanded glass enclosure, with wooden "trees", a mural and swimming pools. They live in three pens held at a constant temperature, similar to their natural habitat

Baltimore’s Baby Elephant Communicates with Infrasound

August 23, 2008  www.baltimoresun.com   By Frank D. Roylance

5-month-old  Samson is the first African elephant born at the  Baltimore. Zoo.  He is under constant observation by his keepers and close medical scrutiny.  High-tech digital X-rays and monthly blood tests have found no issues aside from a long bout of teething and a little sand in his stomach.  Mike McClure, the zoo's general curator, says he has doubled his birth weight and is taking well to his training. He's adding two pounds a day, all from mother's milk, and he won't stop nursing for three to five years.  He is also teething and has begun subsonic vocal communications with Felix, his 7,200-pound mom.  "He's been communicating with his mom ever since he was born, with infrasound," McClure said, referring to low-frequency sound. Elephants can hear it, but humans can't. "A month into it, I had my hand on his back and felt him vibrating ... like a cell phone." The keepers quickly began to take notes. In time, they began to see several patterns. Sometimes the vibration appears to be a herd greeting. "He will come up and present his rear end - a herd behavior. And when he makes contact with us, he will vibrate," McClure said. Felix shows no reaction to that.  Other times, he said, if Samson gets excited during a training session he will vibrate, and Felix will turn toward him, ears out, apparently listening. Sometimes she responds with an audible growl. Usually she will not move or approach, but will if concerned.  Samson is also developing a voice that is audible to humans - a deep growl or rumble that seems to come when he's annoyed with his mother's fussy attentions. "I interpret it as, sort of, 'Mom, go away,' but I don't know," McClure said. She does not respond.  And on July 30, he said, Samson "let out his first real elephant trumpet - a real landmark to me."

Human TB Strain Jumps to Animals

August 24, 2008  www.thetimes.co.za

South Africa’s tuberculosis epidemic has jumped from humans to pets, zoo animals and wildlife. The human strain of the disease has been found in springbok, mongooses, baboons, chimpanzees and, most recently, a Maltese poodle. Worldwide, the human strain of the disease, mycobacterium TB, is rare in animals, who are more commonly infected with another strain, Mycobacterium bovis. “While in most of the rest of the world animals are always regarded as a potential source of TB, in this area we have to be worried about the reverse situation,” said veterinary pathologist Tertius Gous, who recently diagnosed human TB in springbok near Cape Town, and a new TB strain in dassies. The risk of contaminating pets is highest in low-income areas such as townships, according to Sven Parsons from the University of Stellenbosch, who recently recorded South Africa’s first case of human TB in a dog, a stray Maltese cross.

Zoo's Fragile Wilderness Event

August 24, 2008  www.watertowndailytimes.com    By NANCY MADSEN

New York State Zoo at Thompson Park  held it’s 15th Fragile Wilderness  event offering visitors a chance to make birdhouses, bird feeders and frog-shaped beanbags as well as an opportunity to climb on a rock wall.  Saturday's event was the 15th Fragile Wilderness weekend. Zoo Director John S. Foster said the zoo gained 10 exhibitors this year, bringing the number to nearly 40.  "We want this event to represent the full spectrum of people and organizations who value the outdoors and conservation work," he said. The range included state parks, Save the River, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Adirondack Mountain Club and NY Bass Chapter Federation. Home Depot brought almost 300 birdhouse kits and Beaver Camp brought a climbing wall.  Through the activities, the zoo and outdoor organizations hope to engage children and parents in conservation. This was the first time the Cornell University Lab of Ornithology attended the event.

Zoonotic Diseases from Bushmeat

August 24, 2008   ecoworldly.com

Over 60 percent of the 1,415 infectious diseases currently known to modern medicine are capable of infecting both humans and animals. Most of these diseases originated in animals and now infect people and include viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa and helminths, with 175 pathogenic species associated with diseases considered to be ‘emerging infectious diseases,’ or EIDS.  Between 1972 and 1999, 35 new agents of disease were discovered and since then many more have re-emerged according to World Health Organization (WHO). These include malaria, tuberculosis, and cholera.  it has been claimed that the HIV/ AIDS virus may be such a case, as it is thought that it entered human populations through the consumption of non-human primates. The origin of HIV has been found in wild chimpanzees living in southern Cameroon. Public health professionals from across the globe met in Atlanta in March for the sixth International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.  Dr William Karesh, a WCS veterinary expert, believes the threat of potential pandemics such as Ebola, SARS, and avian influenza demands a more holistic approach to disease control, one that prevents diseases from crossing the divide between humans, their livestock, and wildlife. A recent WCS survey in a remote village on the border between Gabon and Congo revealed that about 18 tons of bush meat were sold and consumed in a particular period of time. As wildlife conservationists and medical experts bite their teeth, an average 17 species are killed per day, corresponding to a biomass of 65kg per day.

Wind Turbines Kill Bats Without Touching Them

August 25, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com  By Brian Handwerk

Wind turbines can kill bats without touching them by causing a bends-like condition due to rapidly dropping air pressure. For some reason, bats are attracted to the turbines, which often stand 300 feet (90 meters) high and sport 200-foot (60-meter) blades.  Although a collision can be lethal,  scientist Erin Baerwald and colleagues report that only about half of the bat corpses they found near Alberta, Canada, turbine bases showed any physical evidence of being hit by a blade.  90% showed signs of internal hemorrhaging—evidence of a drop in air pressure near the blades that causes fatal damage to the bats' lungs with a condition called barotrauma. In humans, the condition is related to the bends and can affect divers and airplane passengers during ascents and descents. "As a turbine blade goes around, it creates lift—like an airplane's wings—and there is a small zone of [dropping] pressure, maybe a meter or so in diameter, on the tips of the blades," explained Baerwald.  "Bats fly through this area, and their lungs expand, and the fine capillaries around the edges of the lungs burst." The bats' lungs subsequently fill with fluid, and the animals essentially drown.

Newborn Elephant Calf at Oregon Zoo

August 25, 2008  www.oregonlive.com   by Noelle Crombie

Rose-Tu and the calf have been together since 5 p.m. Sunday, reports Bill La Marche, a zoo spokesman. He said the male calf has been allowed to walk up to its mother, who is tethered. The animal has nursed on and off without difficulty and Rose-Tu has gathered her infant between her front legs, a maternal display of affection among elephants. Oregon Zoo’s elephants are accustomed to being restrained for medical and husbandry reasons, and  it does not appear to be causing her distress. He said when the calf is not nursing, he is in a pen where Rose-Tu can keep an eye on him. La Marche called the pair's warming relationship "excellent news for us."  "She has been very tolerant of him," he said. When Rose-Tu is too tired to nurse and the calf calls out for milk, the zoo staff hand feed him special elephant formula in a 12-ounce beer bottle using a hand-crafted nipple "that seems to work for him."  "He has been nursing on Rose-Tu much more.  The pair are attended by a cast of elephant experts, including five keepers, four managers with backgrounds in elephant care, two vets and two vet technicians. They have provided round-the-clock care for the mother and calf.  Their basic mission: teach Rose-Tu how to be a mom. When she shows signs of aggression toward her baby, they withhold treats and issue stern warnings. When she gently touches her baby, she gets a yam.

London Zoo Panda May be Pregnant

August 25, 2008  www.guardian.co.uk

The London Zoo’s director of science, John Hearn announced yesterday that they were “80 percent confident that female panda, Ching-Ching is pregnant.  She is showing signs of being about to produce a cub within the next month.  The cub would have been conceived 18 weeks ago through artificial insemination with sperm from Chia-Chia, the Zoo’s male panda.  The London Zoo had developed a special monitoring system to pinpoint Ching-Ching’s maximum fertility.  The system has already been used to produce puma and cheetah cubs.  The senior veterinary officer, Mr David Jones, said the evidence was a steep rise in Ching-Ching's progesterone levels. "By the standards of other mammals, we would say she was pregnant, " he said. "But without any laboratory data on pregnant pandas, we cannot be certain. You can't just leap in there with ultrasonic equipment and say 'Sit' to a giant panda."

Ventana Wildlife Society Rebuilds Condor Facility

August 25, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

This week the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park curator of birds delivered a $10,000 check to aid the Ventana Wildlife Society in its recovery from a devastating wildfire. A California condor formerly from the Wild Animal Park was lost in the fire.  "The Ventana Wildlife Society is one of our partners in the conservation of the California condor," said Michael Mace, Wild Animal Park curator of birds. "To date, the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park has sent 34 condors for release to the condor sanctuary in Big Sur.   Two condors were lost and are presumed dead after a June wildfire burned for more than a month through Big Sur, California, where the Ventana Wildlife Society operates its condor sanctuary. Two birds have not been located since the fires began in June, including condor No. 278, a male that hatched at the Wild Animal Park. The biologists suspect the third chick is also alive after observing the parents continuously returning to the nest. Unfortunately the fire's aftermath created conditions that prevent the biologists from entering this nest.  The $10,000 donation from the San Diego Zoo will help replace equipment and supplies so that field biologists in Big Sur can continue to track the free-flying condors and monitor the nests. Contributions from individuals to the San Diego Zoo's California Condor Relief Effort will help offset the Zoo's donation and can be made by visiting the Zoo's California Condor Conservation Website at www.cacondorconservation.org.  Kelly Sorenson, Ventana Wildlife Society executive director said "The Zoological Society of San Diego is playing a big part in helping us get back up and running."

Akron Zoo’s New Rainforest Exhibit

August 25, 2008  www.ohio.com  By Bill Lilley

Two golden lion tamarins, a brother and sister from Brazil, are part of the Akron Zoo’s new rain forest exhibit in the Komodo Kingdom.  Other new species include three stingrays and an armadillo.  ''There is a lot of activity all of the time, and kids really get excited because they can get up so close to the exhibits. They love seeing the stingrays and the other fish swim under water right in front of them.''  There are fewer than 500 of the animals in zoos worldwide and 1,500 in their native habitat.

Miami MetroZoo’s New “Amazon and Beyond”

August 25, 2008   www.marketwatch.com

Amazon & Beyond opens at Miami MetroZoo on December 6, 2008. The 27-acre, $50 million exhibit will showcase giant river otters that can grow to be six-feet long; jaguars, the largest cats in the western hemisphere; harpy eagles with talons the size of grizzly bear claws; and anacondas, the mightiest snakes on earth. Divided into three areas that surround the center Fiesta Plaza, the Cloud Forest, Amazon Forest and Atlantic Forest will house more than 600 animals from the region.  The Fiesta Plaza, adorned with brightly colored flags, will be the center of it all and the point of entry. Artifacts like dugout canoes and musical instruments from Central and South America will transport visitors to the wild tropics. Close encounters with the smaller and friendlier creatures will be possible at an orientation pavilion. Youngsters will be invited to play on climbable folk-art-inspired animal sculptures at Parade of Life or to splash in Fiesta Children's Fountain, a fun, jumping jets water feature, while others can catch a street theater performance of Quetzal's World on the main stage. Here, families can also grab a snack and browse the gift shop before experiencing the three regions.

Animals Vocalizations Adapt to Social Situations

August 25, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

WASHINGTON — A special August issue of the Journal of Comparative Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association, presents a number of studies that investigate the way that animals adapt their calls, chirps, barks and whistles to their social situation.  The special issue is entitled: “Acoustic Interaction in Animal Groups: Signaling in Noisy and Social Contexts." Review articles assess the evidence to date and outline future directions. For example, Peter Tyack, PhD, a biologist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, concludes that, "Pooling data on vocal imitation, vocal convergence and compensation for noise suggests a wider [cross-species] distribution of vocal production learning among mammals than has been generally appreciated." It could mean that mammals have more of the neural underpinnings for learning to vocalize than has been previously thought.
    * Male gray treefrogs (Hyla versicolor) give out longer but fewer calls in reaction to the calls of other males. In other words, when these frogs are chorusing full blast, a male seeking female attention will change the rhythm of his call to break out of the chorus.
    * Using an array of microphones to identify individual callers among wild bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncates), scientists found that although dolphins whistle more in social situations, individuals decrease their vocal output in large groups, when their whistles are more likely to be drowned out.
    * Nestling tree swallows (Tachycineta bicolor) adjust their call output to parents when there's more noisy competition from the brood.
    * Carolina chickadees (Poecile carolinensis) in larger social groups use calls with greater information than do individuals in smaller groups, and female-male interactions in opposite-sex chickadee pairs reflect the rate of male production of that distinctive chick-a-dee call.
    * Two different species of North American katydids synchronize calls within species, using somewhat different methods. Whereas the synchrony of N. spiza is a byproduct of signal competition between evenly matched males, that of N. nebrascensis seems to be an adaptation that allows cooperating males to make sure females can pick up critical features of their calls. These different routes to synchrony suggest different evolutionary paths that have led to the way that male katydids acoustically advertise their availability.

3 Pandas Born During Olympics

August 25, 2008   news.yahoo.com  By AFP

BEIJING  - Three giant pandas have been born in southwest China, bringing the total number of new arrivals of the endangered species this year to at least 19, state media reported.  The three were born at the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre in Sichuan province, Eight-year-old Chengji, whose name means "achievement" in Chinese, on Saturday gave birth to twins, the Beijing Morning Post said.  Another 18-year-old panda gave birth to her 12th baby on Sunday, the website reported.  Chinese experts say there are nearly 1,600 pandas living in the wild in China, mostly in Sichuan and neighbouring Shaanxi and Gansu provinces. Another 180 pandas are being raised in captivity in China.

Monkeys Enjoy Giving to Others

August 25, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have shown capuchin monkeys, just like humans, find giving to be a satisfying experience. Recent imaging studies in humans have documented activity in the reward centers of the human brain after individuals gave to charity. Empathy in seeing the pleasure of another's fortune is thought to be the impetus for sharing, a trait this study shows transcends primate species.  The study is available online in the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Frans de Waal, PhD, director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes Research Center, and Kristi Leimgruber, research specialist, led a team of researchers who exchanged tokens for food with eight adult female capuchins. Each capuchin was paired with a relative, an unrelated familiar female from her own social group or a stranger (a female from a different group). The capuchins then were given the choice of two tokens: the selfish option, which rewarded that capuchin alone with an apple slice; or the prosocial option, which rewarded both capuchins with an apple slice. The monkeys predominantly selected the prosocial token when paired with a relative or familiar individual but not when paired with a stranger.

Saving Marine Turtles with New Hook Technology

August 26, 2008  www.enn.com 

WWF and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), have released a report demonstrating how changing from the classic J hook to circular hooks, providing adequate training and tools to release turtles accidentally hooked and enhancing sustainable fishing practices, can dramatically reduce incidental catch (bycatch) of marine turtles without impacting fishing activity. Moises Mug, Coordinator of the WWF Bycatch Initiative for the Eastern Pacific."Together with fishermen we are building a culture for sustainable fishing practices that will guarantee fish stocks in the long term.” The report - Bycatch Initiative: Eastern Pacific Program, A Vehicle Towards Sustainable Fisheries - is a comprehensive analysis of data collected during four years of work in eight different countries in the Eastern Pacific - Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

Delisting of the Virginia Northern Flying Squirrel

August 26, 2008   www.epa.gov 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), is removing the Virginia northern flying squirrel (Glaucomys sabrinus fuscus), now more commonly known as the West Virginia northern flying squirrel (WVNFS), from the List of Threatened and Endangered Wildlife due to recovery. This action is based on a review of the best available scientific and commercial data, which indicate that the subspecies is no longer endangered or threatened with extinction, or likely to become so within the foreseeable future. Habitat regeneration and recovery actions have resulted in a reduction in the threats, which has led to: (1) A significant increase in the number of known WVNFS captures and distinct capture locations; (2) verification of multiple-generation reproduction and persistence throughout the range; (3) proven WVNFS resiliency; and (4) substantial improvement and continued expansion of suitable habitat rangewide.

Revised Habitat for the Checkerspot Butterfly

August 26, 2008   www.epa.gov 

The USFWS is revising critical habitat for the Bay checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha bayensis) The revision to critical habitat is located in San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, California. This final revised designation therefore constitutes a reduction of 1,453 ac (588 ha) from our 19,746 ac (7,990 ha) proposed revised designation of critical habitat for the Bay checkerspot butterfly published on August 22, 2007. This rule becomes effective on September 25, 2008. The final rule, final economic analysis, and map of critical habitat will be available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov  For further information contact: : Field Supervisor, Sacramento Fish and Wildlife Office, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2605, Sacramento, CA 95825;

Critical Habitat for San Diego Thornmint

August 26, 2008  www.epa.gov  

The USFWS is designating critical habitat for Acanthomintha ilicifolia (San Diego thornmint.)  In total, approximately 671 acres (ac) (272 hectares (ha)) of land in San Diego County, California, fall within the boundaries of the critical habitat designation. This rule becomes effective on September 25, 2008. The final rule, final economic analysis, and map of critical habitat are available on the Internet at http://www.regulations.gov">http://www.regulations.gov. Supporting documentation we used in preparing this final rule will be available for public inspection, by appointment, during normal business hours, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760-431-9440; facsimile 760-431-5901.  For additional information contact: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife

Peninsular Ranges Population of Desert Bighorn Sheep

August 26, 2008  www.epa.gov 

The USFWS announces the reopening of the comment period and the scheduling of public hearings on our October 10, 2007, proposed revision to critical habitat for the Peninsular bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni)  We propose to add approximately 36,240 acres (ac) (14,667 hectares (ha)) to our proposed revision of critical habitat. We also announce the availability of the draft economic analysis (DEA) of the proposed revision to critical habitat and amended required determinations. We are reopening the comment period to allow all interested parties an opportunity to comment simultaneously on the proposed revisions to critical habitat, the associated DEA, and the amended required determinations section. Please do not resend comments that you submitted on the October 10, 2007, proposed rule. We considered those comments in our revisions to the proposed critical habitat that are set forth in this supplemental proposed rule. Comments previously submitted are included in the public record for this rulemaking. Written Comments: We will accept comments received or postmarked on or before October 27, 2008. Any comments received after the closing date may not be considered in the final designation of critical habitat. Public Hearings: The public hearings will take place on September 10, 2008 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Living Desert, 47-900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, California. You may submit comments by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AV07, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.   We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov . For further information contact: Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92011; telephone 760/431-9440

Pollutants Alter Bird Song

August 26, 2008  environment.newscientist.com 

Wild chickadees exposed to permitted levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can't keep a tune as well as other birds.  Because females go for males with the best songs, PCB-exposed birds might lose out on mates, says Sara DeLeon, an ecologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who presented her research at a recent conference at the university.  "The birds are living, not dying, but [PCBs] are affecting some part of their life cycle," she says. Researchers have long known that some chemicals, such DDT, can throw off a bird's song, but none have determined whether exposure to trace amounts in the wild can influence songs and mating.

Cetaceans Need More Attention

August 26, 2008   news.bbc.co.uk By  Nicolas Entrup

A survey by the IUCN, reports that nearly a quarter of cetacean species were considered threatened.  Of those, more than 10% were listed as Endangered or Critically Endangered, the highest categories of threat. More than half of the cetacean species (44 species) are classified as Data Deficient, meaning future research needs to be a priority. It is already too late to save the baiji, which is listed as Possibly Extinct.  In late 2006, an intensive and expensive survey to search for Chinese river dolphins in the Yangtze resulted in no sightings.  The resulting conclusion was that this species, also known as the baiji, was most likely extinct. And at the last annual meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in June 2008, scientists warned of the extinction of the vaquita in Mexico

Island Extinction Study

August 26, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

SANTA BARBARA -- A paper published this month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sheds surprising light on the subject of extinction rates of species on the islands of the world. "Species Invasions and Extinction: The Future of Native Biodiversity on Islands," is one in a series of reports by 2 UC Santa Barbara scientists, Steven Gaines and Dov Sax on how humans have altered ecosystems.  Surprisingly they found that diversity is on the rise – markedly so in some instances. Diversity has gone up so dramatically that it might cause some to wonder if the health of the ecosystems might not be better because the number of species is twice as high as it used to be. But it's not that simple, Gaines said.  "The vast majority of introductions (of species) don't have large negative effects, and most don't have much effect at all. It doesn't mean that they're not altering the ecosystem, but they're not driving things extinct like we've been hearing about."  Still, the study showed that human colonization has had a massive impact on ecosystems of islands, with the introduction of new, exotic plants and animals. In New Zealand, for example, there were about 2,000 native species of plants. Since colonization, about 2,000 new plant species have become naturalized. Over the same period, there have been few plant extinctions, so the net effect is that humans have transformed New Zealand's landscape by bringing in so many new species.

Python kills Venezuelan Zookeeper

August 26, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk

A 10-foot python killed a student zookeeper who let the snake out of its enclosure in Venezuela while working a night shift at the Parque del Este zoo.  Zoo employees at the Caracas zoo discovered the Burmese Python as it tried to swallow its victim's head. The co-workers beat the snake to force it to release Erick Arrieta's body. Marks on the biology student's left wrist suggested the snake had bitten him before crushing him to death.  Arrieta, who was 29, had been supervising the reptile section alone on Saturday night when he broke zoo rules by opening the snake's cage.  The snake was donated to the Caracas zoo two months ago and was not on public display. "The young man underestimated the animal's instinct," said Javier Hernandez, director general of the zoo.

Three Elephants Pregnancies at Taronga & Melbourne

August 28, 2008  www.theaustralian.news.com.a u  By  John Stapleton

THE eight Asian elephants brought in from tourist and work camps in Thailand in late 2006 have settled in so well that three of them are now pregnant.  The pampered animals are washed each day, have their own pool and plenty of room.  One of the elephants, Thong Dee, was impregnated naturally by eight year old Gung. In the wild his hormones would be suppressed by his proximity to other dominant males; and around this age he would be forced out of the herd to go and live either a solitary life or to roam with other batchelors until he was more than 30 years old, when he would attempt to make a claim for female attention.The other two elephants, Porntip in Sydney and Dokkoon in Melbourne,  were artificially inseminated by experts from the Berlin-based Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Reserach. The successful impregnations are the first two successful AI treatments of elephants in Australia.  Elephant keeper at Taronga Brad Johnston said the impregnation of Porntip only took about ten minutes and she had been entirely calm and relaxed during the procedure. Porntip used to give rides to tourists in Pataya and is the dominant female and leader of her group, and already shows concern for the others in her clan.  Johnston said, “She is very nurturing and will make an excellent mother.”  She was impregnated with the semen of the bull in the Melbourne Zoo, Bong Su. Taronga Zoo Director Guy Cooper said three planned pregnancies in less than two years was an outstanding result for the Australasian Conservation Management Program for Asian Elephants.

LA Zoo Meerkat Management Questioned

August 28, 2008  www.knbc.com 

LOS ANGELES --  Meerkats can be managed as solitary animals with appropriate care, according to LA Zoo spokesman, Jason Jacobs, an L.A. Zoo spokesman.  The LA Zoo and other institutions, including the Denver Zoo, also tend to lone meerkats.  However a web site petition with about 900 signatures is calling on zoo officials either to get a few roommates for 9-year-old meerkat, Chico or transfer him to another zoo, where he can make new friends.

KC Zoo Chimpanzee Dies

August 28, 2008  www.kansascity.com   By MATT CAMPBELL

Jimmie the chimpanzee, a fixture of the Kansas City Zoo for 40 years,  died Wednesday morning.  Randy Wisthoff, zoo director, said Jimmie began his day as usual and took his heart medications. “He was fine and alert earlier in the morning, and at some point he went over and laid down, and that was it,” Wisthoff said.  Jimmie was the old male of the zoo’s 16-member chimpanzee troop, which was the largest in the United States. Kansas City and the Los Angeles Zoo now each have 15 chimpanzees.  Jimmie had sired 19 offspring since coming to the Kansas City Zoo in 1968 after being captured in Liberia. Among his descendants is a female chimp born one year ago. The zoo is setting up a memorial fund in Jimmie’s name to benefit chimpanzee conservation efforts in Africa.

Gorilla Heart Health

August 28, 2008  www.sfgate.com   By Marisa Lagos

Zoos and researchers have realized in recent years that heart disease is increasingly common in captive gorillas, and they want to collect as much information on as many of the primates as they can. Recently the S.F. Zoo's head veterinarian, Jacqueline Jencek; a private veterinary cardiologist, Sam Silverman; a number of zoo hospital technicians and vets; and a cardiologist from UCSF Medical Center, Dr. Dana McGlothlin, examined Nneka, a 9-year-old lowland gorilla. Nneka was given a clean bill of health.  The Gorilla Health Project started in 2006 and has collected data from more than 100 captive gorillas because a number of lowland gorillas in captivity have died in recent years from cardiac problems. The AZA wants to compile as much information as possible on healthy gorillas' hearts so they can better evaluate them later in life, begin treatment for animals that appear to be predisposed to cardiac problems, and manage and treat disease in the whole species. The information will also help the association's species survival plan, which uses complicated formulas to determine which captive endangered animals should breed.  Information from gorillas at several zoos are already in the database. So far, the San Francisco Zoo has examined two of its five gorillas: 9-year-old Nneka and her mother, 28-year-old Bawang. The other three will be evaluated when they are up for their routine medical exam. To conduct te exams, the gorillas must be anesthetized. If the animal is feeling cooperative, it will sidle up to the side of the cage and let vets administer a hand injection to its backside;  otherwise, they are given an oral sedative so they can be injected  with a tranquillizer dart. They are given anesthetic gas during the procedure to keep them unconscious. Vets monitor the animal's temperature, heart rate and blood pressure while they are under, and keep them separated from the rest of the gorillas overnight to make sure everything is OK.

Bonobo Language Study

August 28, 2008  www.physorg.com 

A new paper published this month in the Journal of Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, indicate that bonobos may exhibit larger linguistic competency in ordinary conversation than in controlled experimental settings.  Janni Pedersen, an Iowa State University Ph.D. candidate studied the language-competent bonobos at Great Ape Trust of Iowa with William M. Fields, director of bonobo research. Their findings run counter to the view among some linguists, including Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus of linguistics at MIT, who argue that only humans possess and use language. In his hierarchy of language, Chomsky believes that language is part of the genetic makeup of humans and did not descend from a single primitive language evolved from the lower primate order, and it must include formal structures such as grammar and syntax.  The researchers used linguistic tools that have normally been applied to humans moving toward the kinds of methodology that are appropriate in ape language, based on Savage-Rumbaugh's 1993 monograph, Language Comprehension in  Ape and Child."

Philly Zoo’s Elephant Petal Died of Old Age

August 28, 2008  www.eveningsun.com 

PHILADELPHIA—An autopsy has determined that Petal, a 52-year-old elephant at the Philadelphia Zoo, died of age-related problems.  Animal health director Dr. Keith Hinshaw says Petal had arthritis and heart and lung problems, but "the most significant finding was fairly 
significant heart disease."  Zoo officials say that the morning of June 9th Petal fell into a deep sleep, collapsed, and toppled over from her upright sleep position. The autopsy concluded that because of her arthritis, the aged elephant was unable to get back up.  When handlers found her, Petal was exhausted and there was nothing they could do to help. She died a short time later.

Unscrupulous Zoo Director is Missing

August 28, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com 

South African Zoo Director Pablo Caligiuri-Urban disappeared after arriving in South America to purchase animals. Caligiuri-Urban, of the Animal and Reptile Park Zoo in Muldersdrift,  faces two charges of assault.  Janet Schofield, Wildlife Action Network, wag.co.za has verified that Caligiuri-Urban was lent R1,2-million shortly before he vanished.The money was secured by means of a bond over the zoo's assets and the facility is therefore not allowed to sell anything without written approval.  Animals, including five endangered ocelots and three spider monkeys with a price tag of R145 000, have since had to be sold. While it was maintained that animals sold would all go to top facilities approved by Nature Conservation’, five lions were sold without correct permits. Concerns persist that the lions were destined for the canned hunting industry.

3 Malayan Tiger Cubs at Fortworth Zoo

August 28, 2008  www.star-telegram.com 

FORT WORTH -- There are fewer than 550 Malayan tigers in the world but the Fort Worth Zoo introduced a litter of 3 female cubs born April 28.  Their mother, also gave birth to cubs here in 2000 and 2003, according to Ron Surratt, the zoo’s director of animal collections.  This species had been categorized and exhibited as the Indochinese tiger until earlier this year when genetic testing showed the tigers were actually Malayan.  The cubs will remain in Fort Worth until they are 2 years old and then be transferred to another zoo.

New Species of Giant Clam

August 28, 2008   www.physorg.com 

An account of the first new living species of giant clam in two decades, has been published in Current Biology. While fossil evidence reveals that the new species, called Tridacna costata, once accounted for more than 80 percent of giant clams in the Red Sea, it now represents less than one percent of giant clams living there.  Overharvesting by humans many thousands of years ago, probably led to the loss said Claudio Richter of the Alfred-Wegener-Institute for Polar and Marine Research in Germany. The new species appears to live only in the shallowest waters, making it particularly vulnerable to overfishing.  Scientists from the Center of Tropical Marine Ecology in Germany and the University of Jordan, discovered the new species while attempting to develop a breeding program for another prized giant clam species. Study coauthor Hilly Roa-Quiaoit of Xavier University in the Philippines,  recognized the new species, which can measure up to a foot long and has a shell with a distinctive zig-zag outline, as a new variety. Marc Kochzius at the University of Bremen led the molecular genetic analysis, which confirmed T. costata as a new species.

Indonesian Plan for Sumatran Tigers and Elephants

August 28, 2008   www.enn.com 

Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the last havens for endangered Sumatran elephants and tigers, was created in 2004 with 38,000 hectares of forest. Now the Indonesian government plans to double its size to 86,000 by the end of this year. With more than 4,000 plant species recorded so far, the forest of Tesso Nilo has the highest lowland forest plant biodiversity known to science, with many species yet to be discovered.  About 60 to 80 elephants are estimated to live there, along with 50 tigers. Tesso Nilo forest is also an important watershed for more than 40,000 people living in the surrounding 22 villages. Dr. Mubariq Ahmad, WWF-Indonesia's Chief Executive. “To ensure the commitment is effectively implemented we must redouble our efforts to eliminate poaching and illegal settlements within this special forest.  And while we greatly appreciate this precedent for more protection from the Indonesian government, there are other areas on Sumatra that need safeguarding for the sake of its wildlife, its threatened indigenous peoples and to reduce the climate impacts of clearing.”

Two Primate Species Thriving in Cambodia

August 28, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

The largest known populations of 2 endangered primate species have been found in Cambodia. Scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society counted 42,000 black-shanked douc langurs and 2,500 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons in Cambodia's Seima Biodiversity Conservation Area, which is about the size of Yosemite National Park.  The WCS surveys were conducted with the Royal Government of Cambodia’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Before the recent discovery, Vietnam was thought to be home to the largest known populations of both species, with 600 black-shanked douc langurs and 200 yellow-cheeked crested gibbons.  The research was supported by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Great Apes Conservation Fund, MacArthur Foundation, Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation, ADB Greater Mekong Subregion Core Environment Program and the Danish Government's Danida program.

Lizard's Day Begins and Ends with Display

August 28, 2008  www.news.ucdavis.edu

Male Jamaican anole lizards begin and end the day with push-ups, head bobs and extensions of a colorful neck flap, or dewlap -- to defend their territory, according to a new study.in American Naturalist.  "Anoles are highly visual species, so in that sense it is not surprising that they would use visual displays to mark territory," said Terry J. Ord, a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis and at Harvard University's Museum of Comparative Zoology. The lizards are the first animals known to mark dawn and dusk through visual displays, rather than the much better known chirping, tweeting, and other sounding off by birds, frogs, geckos and primates.  Ord studied four species of Jamaican forest lizard: Anolis lineatopus, Anolis sagrei, Anolis grahami, and Anolis opalinus. Females establish small territories allowing access to food and other resources, while males stake out larger territories allowing them access to several females. The males spend much of the day sitting on tree trunks and displaying head motions, push-ups, and dewlap extensions, all to warn other males away from their territory.. In all four species, he found distinct peaks of activity at daybreak and for about two hours afterward, and again just before dark. Anoles leave their daytime perches at night to find safe shelter from nocturnal predators. The research was funded by the National Geographic Society and National Science Foundation, and is published online by the journal American Naturalist.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

August 28, 2008  www.epa.gov

The public is invited to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species. Written data, comments or requests must be received by September 29, 2008.  Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review by any party who submits a written request for a copy of such documents within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Division of Management Authority, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Room 212, Arlington, Virginia 22203; fax 703/358-2281. For further information contact: Division of Management Authority, telephone 703/358-2104.

Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/California Condor Recovery Program, Ventura, CA, PRT-185756. The applicant requests a permit to re-export one dead male captive-born specimen of a California condor (Gymnogyps californianus) to the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), Mexico City, Mexico for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education.

Applicant: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/Whooping Crane Recovery Program, Austwell, TX, PRT-189482. The applicant requests a permit to export one dead male captive-born specimen of a whooping crane (Grus americana) to the Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), Mexico City, Mexico for the purpose of enhancement of the species through conservation education.

Emergency Permit Issuance

August 28, 2008    www.epa.gov

On August 15, 2008, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) issued a permit (PRT-192748) to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Fairbanks, AK, to take one captive held male wood bison (Bison bison athabascae) for the purpose of scientific research into animal and human health. This action was authorized under Section 10(c) of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, as amended (16 U.S.C. 1531 et seq.). The Service determined that an emergency affecting the health and life of the Alaska captive held population existed, and that no reasonable alternative was available to the applicant for the following reasons:  One seven year old adult male wood bison owned by the State of Alaska and held at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center, Girdwood, Alaska, became weak and emaciated, and tested positive for Cryptosporidium, threatening the health of other wood bison in the captive herd and presenting a risk to human health.

AMAZING Video of Giant Panda Birth at Oji Zoo

August 28, 2008  www.enn.com 

Video footage at http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/38046 shows 12- year-old giant panda Tan Tan giving birth August 26 to the first baby panda born in Japan in 20 years. The cub was born at the Oji Zoo in Nada Ward, Kobe, on Tuesday. This is the 11th giant panda to be born in the nation--the others were delivered at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo or Adventure World in Shirahamacho.  Of the 11, the new delivery is the fourth to be conceived via artificial insemination, and the first by that method since 1988.  All pandas are on lease or born from other pandas on lease from China. 

Oji Zoo Panda Dies After 3 Days

August 29, 2008  afp.google.com

TOKYO (AFP) — A giant panda cub whose rare birth led to rejoicing in Japan died on Friday after just three days"Zoo officials and veterinarians were monitoring it 24 hours a day, but it ended with a sad result,"  Zoo officials said the cause of death was under investigation.  The baby's mother, Tan Tan, was artificially inseminated with the sperm of Xing Xing. Both pandas are 12 years old and live at the Kobe zoo.  Tan Tan also had a stillborn baby, conceived through natural means, last year.

San Diego Zoo Cancels Founders Day

August 29, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com 

SAN DIEGO: Citing unmanageable crowds, the San Diego Zoo has canceled its free Founders Day, traditionally held on a Monday in October since 1950.   “Last year, they shut our parking lot down at 10:30 a.m. We had to have Highway Patrol out because of the gridlock on (state Route) 163. It became a popular skipping-school day. We saw fighting breaking out,” John Dunlap, zoo director, said yesterday. “This is not traditional San Diego Zoo activity.”   In years past, more than 40,000 people turned out for the day of free zoo admission, avoiding a ticket price of $24.50 for adults and $16.50 for children. A typical busy summer day at the Balboa Park attraction draws 22,000 people.   To make up for the change, zoo officials said they will issue up to 250,000 free tickets through charities during the year. Details on how those will be distributed will come later, they said. They also will expand their October kids-free promotion to include the zoo's Wild Animal Park near Escondido.  Zoo officials said they had no other choice, especially this year with more than 10 percent of the zoo closed for construction of a new elephant yard. It would mean thousands of people waiting outside the gates to rotate in as capacity opened.

Black-footed Ferrets from Frozen Sperm

August 29, 2008  www.wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The National Zoo has a new, unusual birth announcement.  Two black-footed ferrets were born in June at the National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va. But what makes the births unusual is that the ferrets' fathers have been dead for at least eight years. The kits were sired by male ferrets who died in 1999 and 2000. The sperm was collected and frozen in 1997 and 1998. "We wanted to use frozen semen as a way to input gene diversity into the population," National Zoo Reproductive Scientist Dr. JoGayle Howard says. Successful inseminations with frozen semen are extremely rare, the zoo says. Until now, only three black-footed ferret kits were born from the method. For more than 10 years, the semen was stored in the Zoo's Black-Footed Ferret Genome Resource Bank. The bank helps maintain and enhance genetic diversity by infusing new genes into the population and also serves as insurance against catastrophes in the wild populations, the zoo says.  The black-footed ferret is an endangered species that was thought extinct until of 18 were discovered in Wyoming in 1981. There are now about 700 in the wild.

San Diego Wild Animal Park’s Przewalski Foals

August 29, 2008  www.horsetalk.co.nz

San Diego zoo added another Przewalski foal this month, making three for the breeding season so far, with the promise of two more.  The three foals kicked up their hooves while making a grand entrance at San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park last Friday.  The wild animal park currently houses 17 of these critically endangered horses, including the new additions, born August 3, July 22 and July 19. Two more foals are expected soon. Foals are born after an 11-month pregnancy. About 30 minutes after birth the babies must be on their legs and able to move with the herd. Since 1974, 138 Przewalski's horses have been born at the park. The first pair arrived in 1970, leading the way to a successful breeding programme that has allowed the park to participate in a reintroduction programme in Kazakstan. At one time extinct in the wild, zoos and other conservation organisations have maintained the species. A research project being conducted by San Diego Zoo Conservation Research scientists may shed light on the genetic background of this species and its true origins.

Zoo Atlanta’s Panda is Pregnant

August 29, 2008  www.11alive.com 

ATLANTA -- Zoo Atlanta's giant panda Lun Lun is pregnant and the birth of her offspring is considered imminent. "During today's ultrasound we confirmed a full formed fetus with a very strong heart beat," said Dr. Sam Rivera in a news release from Zoo Atlanta.  Lun Lun has been on 24-hour birth watch since August 9th, after Lun Lun showed a sharp decrease in appetite and withdrawn behavior. Those behavior patterns are often associated pregnancy or pseudopregnancy, zoo officials said.  The challenge with a panda pregnancy is that the female behaves the same for a false pregnancy as she does for the real one. And it is nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two.  "It's a little hard to see -- just because the fetus is very small, and giant pandas have a lot of intestines, an there's usually a lot of food in there," said Dr. Snyder. "So even though we do ultrasound regularly, lots of times we can't get a good image of the whole uterus."  Lun Lun's first cub named Mei Lan was born on Sept. 6, 2006. Zoo Atlanta is one of only four zoos in the U.S. exhibiting the endangered species.

Utica Zoo Exhibits Built By Local Teens

August 29, 2008   www.uticaod.com

UTICA —The Utica Zoo opened three exhibits this week built by local teens as part of the Oneida County Summer Youth Employment Program.  Students designed and built homes for the zoo’s tortoise and the emu. Students also designed and built an arbor.  Students who built the projects were in the Construction Trades Program developed by the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES School and Business Alliance.

Mill Moutain Zoo Seeks Mountain Land

August 29, 2008   www.roanoke.com

Mill Mountain Zoo's master plan seeks to incorporate a collection of animals native to the state, including bobcats, beavers, bison and bears. Dave Orndorff, the zoo's executive director, pitched a 3 acre southerly expansion to the Mill Mountain Advisory Committee on Thursday afternoon, seeking the support of the mountain's stewards.  Orndorff stressed that the proposed exhibit, “Virginia Wild” would blend with the mountain and remove few trees, having minimal impact on the landscape.  He agreed to offer a "definitive plan" at a future meeting.  Expansion on the mountain also requires the approval of the Roanoke City Council. The nonprofit zoo leases its 8-acre property from the city. It has developed 4.5 acres.

Pygmy Hippo Born at Lowry Park Zoo

August 29, 2008  www.abcactionnews.com

TAMPA, FL – TheTampa's Lowry Park Zoo’s pygmy hippo, "Zsa Zsa" has given birth to a baby girl.  A picture is at: www.abcactionnews.com

Baby Elephant Debuts at Oregon Zoo

August 29, 2008  www.katu.com

Born on Aug. 23, the Oregon Zoo's week-old Asian elephant is ready to make his public debut. The zoo will admit 30 people at a time into the viewing gallery for five minutes each. No flash photography is permitted in the gallery, and zoo officials have asked that patrons remain quiet during their visit to avoid frightening Rose-Tu and the calf. Interpreters will be on hand to answer questions about the elephants. Mike Keele, the zoo's deputy director and the AZA’s species survival plan coordinator for Asian elephants said "We've had to take things very slowly to ensure that Rose-Tu and her calf are completely bonded and comfortable. The young Asian elephant, had a rough start to life when Rose-Tu became confused after giving birth and nearly trampled him. Elephant keepers quickly intervened and were able to prevent the new mother from causing any harm to her baby. Keele believes Rose-Tu became confused because she had never seen a birth before. Now, Rose-Tu is showing good maternal instincts and remains attentive to her new calf, keepers say.  Until the new baby's arrival, she herself had been the last elephant born at the zoo. Born Aug. 31, 1994, she is popular within the herd and with her keepers. She is always looking to tease her herd mates and shares a strong friendship with Chendra, who is nearly the same age. Rose-Tu is the second smallest elephant in the herd, weighing about 7,600 pounds. We're much more confident in the strength of the mother-calf bond now, and we'll continue to work on introductions with Shine and Chendra." More than 25 elephants have been born at the Oregon zoo, beginning with Packy in 1962. The new calf is the first third-generation elephant to be born in the United States.

Cactus Plant Smuggling

August 29, 2008  www.time.com  By Hilary Hylton

Cactus plants in the southwestern United States and Mexico are being dug up and smuggled away at an alarming rate by collectors looking for rare species and "narco-tourists" mining the desert for the small, psychotropic peyote plant.  The thievery is fueled in part by the conservation effort itself. "International rules aimed at preventing the movement of plants and seeds in order to protect them have had unintended consequences," says Dick Wiedhopf, president of the Cactus and Succulent Society of America and its Tucson chapter. "They have made [cactuses] more valuable." That explains why wildlife — including cactus — ranks just below drugs and guns as the most popular good smuggled out of Mexico, according to experts.  There's no shortage of cactus dealers online: a 2005 Mexican study found nearly 4,000 websites selling cactuses, and 500 were run by illicit traders, who constantly switch Web servers and names to elude law enforcement.  Rolando Barcenas Luna of the Autonomous University of Queretaro, Mexico. Barcenas and Martin Terry, a biologist at Sul Ross University in West Texas and co-founder of the Cactus Conservation Institute (CCI) are members of a team of biologists currently mapping several threatened cactus species through DNA sampling, but their project is often stymied by growing threats to the plants from illegal harvesting and destruction by drug traffickers. There are almost 700 species of cactus in Mexico and a third of them are threatened; consequently scientists keep location information private in their database.

Buffalo Zoo Rainforest Opening

August 29, 2008  www.bizjournals.com

Opening date for the Buffalo Zoo’s $16 million M&T Bank Rainforest Falls exhibit has been set for September 10. It will be the centerpiece of a new wave of exhibits the zoo has opened in recent years including a “Vanishing Animals” showcase and a sea lion/river otter pool.  All of the species in the new exhibit are native to South America, including giant anteaters, vampire bats, black howler monkeys and anaconda. A number of free-flighted birds including scarlet ibis and boat-billed herons will live inside the exhibit.  The exhibits main attraction will be a 25-foot tall waterfall, modeled after Angel Falls in Venezuela’s Canaima National Park, and the entire building is modeled after the tepui, a flat-topped mountain region of Venezuela.  The exhibit will be maintained at 80 degrees all year. A 3,600-square-foot commercial greenhouse has been added to help replenish plants and vegetation the animals eat. Major funding came from Robert Wilmers, M&T Bank chairman and CEO, the John R. Oishei Foundation, New York state and Erie County.

Elephants Decimated in Virunga National Park

August 29, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com  By Zoe Alsop in Nairobi, Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Since the beginning of this year, armed groups, soldiers, and poachers have killed 10 percent of the elephants in Congo's Virunga National Park—allegedly driven by rising Chinese demand for ivory—park officials say. Rangers in the central sector of Virunga have discovered the bodies of seven elephants in the past two weeks alone.  In one case they came upon Rwandan militia members hovering over the bodies of two elephants. The rangers managed to drive the men away before they could remove the animals' tusks.  In all, 24 elephants are known to have been killed in Virunga so far this year. "We believe that less than ten were killed last year," said Samantha Newport, spokesperson for Virunga National Park. The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the primary sources of illegally trafficked ivory in the world, according to TRAFFIC, a group that monitors the wildlife trade.  Virunga's elephant population is small—between 200 and 300 animals—and isolated. It will not be able to sustain itself if killings continue at this rate, said Noelle Kumpel, program manager at the Zoological Society of London, which is working to support the rehabilitation and management of Virunga.

KPBS Showcases Pandas at the San Diego Zoo

August 29, 2008  www.imperialvalleynews.com 

SAN DIEGO, California – San Diego Zoo panda,  Zhen Zhen’s life has been documented by KPBS cameras, from birth to birthday.  Now  “Panda Tales,”  will air September 7 at 8 p.m. on KPBS.  “Panda Tales” describes a decade long period beginning when the panda population in the wild was dangerously low due to a slow reproductive rate, a disappearing habitat and vanishing food sources. Thanks to knowledge gleaned partially through the Zoo’s research, pandas at the Wolong Giant Panda Breeding Center and Reserve in China, many pandas now mate naturally and successfully nurture and raise their offspring. In the past 10 years, the population in Wolong has quadrupled.  While Zhen Zhen’s story was in progress, the massive earthquake of May 12 destroyed many of the giant panda enclosures in Wolong. “Panda Tales” captures the Zoo team’s concern for their colleagues in China, as well as plans to aid in the breeding center’s rebuilding. Narrator, Kathi Diamant; Producer/Director, Maura Daly Phinney; Music Composer, Paul Montesano; Associate Producer, Andy Trimlett; Executive Producer, Keith York.  CRES researcher, Ron Swaisgood and Veterinarian Meg Southerland-Smith are featured.

Isle of Wight Zoo Saves Madagascan Jumping Rats

August 29, 2008  www.iwcp.co.uk   By Jon Moreno
The Madagascan jumping rat, predicted to become extinct in the wild within the next 25 years, is thriving at the Isle of Wight Zoo.  The rats, which can live up to 12 years, are two of only 63 of the critically endangered species in captivity around the globe. They are found in a small area of deciduous forest in western Madagascar, a country ravaged by deforestation.  These burrowing animals, which only jump when alarmed, are now as endangered as some of the island’s lemur species.  Menabe, the five-year-old male, and Kirindy, almost aged three, live in a special enclosure for nocturnal animals. 

Saving the Cape Baboon

August 29, 2008  www.servamus.co.za  by Kotie Geldenhuys  

The chacma baboon (Papio Ursinus), also known as the Cape Baboon, lived in Cape Town’s surrounding mountains long before its human neighbours. Conflict escalated as urban development invaded baboons’ habitat and man and baboon came into closer contact with each other.  Although baboons are widespread and do not rank among threatened animal species, the remaining baboons on the southern Cape Peninsula face a bleak future as continued urbanisation reduces the areas they have roamed for centuries. Movement and migration of these animals cannot take place anymore. For many people in the Cape Peninsula the baboons are a nuisance, overturning trash cans and entering houses in their search for food. These animals can be aggressive and sometimes even dangerous. Negative encounters have frustrated the human residents and some of them started to take the law into their own hands to get rid of the "pests" in their midst. The baboons of the Cape Peninsula are an isolated population and if they are not looked after properly, they will face extinction some time or another.

U.S. Science Education

August 29, 2008  www.sciencemag.org   By Jorge Allende

Sustainable socioeconomic and cultural development requires nations with a citizenry that understands science, shares its values, and uses scientific critical thinking. This can best be attained through science education that is based on inquiry, an approach that reproduces in the classroom the learning process of scientists: formulating questions, doing experiments, collecting and comparing data, reaching conclusions, and extrapolating these findings to more general situations. The Program for International Student Assessment, an international organization of industrialized nations, measures the extent to which 15-year-olds can identify scientific issues, explain phenomena scientifically, and use scientific evidence to draw conclusions. The results, made public earlier this year (http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pisa ), reveal that all developing countries and many industrial ones, including the United States, are failing to prepare their children adequately for life in the modern world. Leading scientists of each nation, acting through their national science academies, are working together to change this state of affairs.

Vehicle Break-ins at SeaWorld and WAP

August 30, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com  By Matthew Rodriguez and Kristina Davis

Police are investigating numerous vehicle break-ins at the Wild Animal Park and SeaWorld over the last few weeks, with losses totaling tens of thousands of dollars. Police suspect that eight break-ins at the Wild Animal Park, all of which occurred from Aug. 13 to 21, are related, San Diego police Lt. Rick O'Hanlon said. The park had none in the weeks before or since.  All involved high-end SUVs, and only one showed signs of forced entry. O'Hanlon wouldn't speculate about how that was accomplished. Losses in those cases totaled more than $25,000.  One apparent victim was Cedric the Entertainer, a comedian and actor. On Aug. 21, a vehicle belonging to Cedric Antonio Kyles, his real name, was burglarized at the Wild Animal Park, according to police records. What was stolen was not reported, and Kyles couldn't be reached for comment.

Fighting Plague to Save Black-footed Ferrets

August 30, 2008  news.yahoo.com   By Chet Brokaw, AP

SOUTH DAKOTA -- One colony of ferrets, discovered in Wyoming in 1981, fueled a captive breeding program, allowing reintroduction of ferrets at 17 sites in South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, Kansas and Mexico, according to Nancy Warren, endangered species program leader in the Rocky Mountain Region of the U.S. Forest Service.  But, sylvatic plague was discovered last May in a huge prairie dog town in the Conata Basin of South Dakota. The black-tailed prairie dog is the main prey of ferrets, and the disease quickly killed up to a third of the area's 290 ferrets along with prairie dogs.  The disease stopped spreading with the arrival of summer's hot, dry weather, but it poses a serious threat to efforts to establish stable populations of the endangered ferret, said Scott Larson of the USFWS in Pierre.  Larson is coordinating ferret conservation efforts among five federal agencies. This summer, a crew of four has buzzed across the prairie on all-terrain vehicles, spraying white insecticide dust into prairie dog burrows to kill fleas.  After dark, another crew moved into the area during part of the summer to shine spotlights across the grasslands, trap ferrets and vaccinate them against the plague.  Officials want to dust about 11,000 acres with insecticide by this fall, and have covered about two-thirds of that area so far. More than 60 ferrets have been vaccinated, with 15 of them already getting the desired two doses.  Of the 25,000 acres of prairie dog habitat managed for ferrets in the basin, the plague had spread to about 9,700 acres before its growth halted in August. Officials expect the plague might start spreading again this fall or next spring. The disease has not been found inside Badlands National Park itself.  Warren said the insecticide appears to be effective, but it's too early to tell if it will save the ferrets.

Fundraiser for Miller Park Zoo

August 30, 2008  www.pantagraph.com  By Scott Richardson

BLOOMINGTON -- One-of-a-kind art will be featured at an auction fundraiser to benefit Miller Park Zoo’s captive breeding program for Sumatran tigers.  The artists include a Rainbow boa, a cockroach, a millipede and other residents of the Bloomington zoo.  Zookeepers carefully coated tiny feet or undersides of scaled bodies with non-toxic paint before the creatures crawled, patted or slithered across paper. Others, like saki monkeys, were just handed paint brushes.   Corporate sponsors include Country Financial, State Farm, The Pantagraph, AFNI, Commerce Bank, McDonald’s, Verizon and Prairie Oak Veterinary Center. Organizers hope the event will raise $50,000 to kick off phase two of Operation Roar, a capital improvement program. The first phase led to construction of a new animal hospital that opened this year. The cost was about $400,000.  The next challenge is to raise $500,000 to $700,000 to remodel the zoo’s oldest building, the Katthoefer Animal Building that dates to 1914. The structure, last remodeled in 1976, houses a single 17-year-old Sumatran tiger named Besar, among other animals. Plans call for the exhibit to be updated to include two new enclosures, one for a younger male tiger and the other for a female tiger, and eventually their offspring. Just 400 Sumatrans remain in the wild. Illegal poaching causes their numbers to fall by about 10 percent every year.  $50,000 will get the project started.  In addition to the Sumatran tiger breeding project, Zoo superintendent John Tobias hopes to eventually embark on a breeding program involving red pandas.

Stingray Bay Will Remain at Fresno Chaffee Zoo

August 31, 2008  www.fresnobee.com  By Marc Benjamin

A recent visitor survey conducted at the Fresno Chaffee Zoo found that Stingray Bay is their most popular exhibit. The exhibit now has a backup generator to prevent a repeat of last year’s power.  failure that led to a spike in water temperatures killing 21 of 27 stingrays.  Something similar happened in July at Brookfield Zoo near Chicago. Power fluctuations contributed to the deaths of 16 stingrays there, officials said.  Lewis Greene, Fresno Chaffee Zoo director, said all the animals in this year's exhibit -- stingrays, sharks and horseshoe crabs -- are healthy. One of the white-spotted bamboo sharks died on exhibit earlier this summer, but it appeared to be in fragile health since arriving in March.  A nurse shark was added to the exhibit after it became too large for a local pet owner to care for. Among people who visit the zoo, 56% go to Stingray Bay. Last year, that rate was 58%.  And attendance is rising this year. As of Thursday, zoo attendance has gone up 8.6%. Last year, attendance at the zoo was 398,820, up from about about 311,000 in 2006.
Mike Yeakle, president of San Diego-based Living Exhibits, which owns the animals.  He said three zoos have had the stingray exhibit for three years. Admission to Stingray Bay is free for zoo members. For non-members, it's $1 per person plus the regular zoo admission price.

Firefly Conservation Symposium

August 31, 2008  www.livescience.com 

BAN LOMTUAN, Thailand (AP) — The Mae Klong River delta used to be aglow with thousands of fireflies, but the population has dropped 70% in the past 3 years.  The fate of the insects drew more than 100 entomologists and biologists to Thailand's northern city of Chiang Mai last week for an international symposium on the "Diversity and Conservation of Fireflies."  They then traveled Friday to Ban Lomtuan, an hour outside of Bangkok, to see the synchronous firefly Pteroptyx malaccae — known for its rapid, pulsating flashing that look like Christmas lights.

Baby Panda at Atlanta Zoo

August 31, 2008  www.ajc.com  By LEON STAFFORD

On Saturday morning, Lun Lun the giant panda went into labor at  Zoo Atlanta.  She gave birth shortly after 10 p.m. The labor and birth were caught on a live 24-hour video feed that was streamed by several news organizations, including www.ajc.com . Sunday, the zoo’s Video Cam showed Lun Lun cradling her newborn close to her chest.  Lun Lun will concentrate on her cub’s health for about two weeks, trying to keep the baby warm, since the temperature of its now-hairless body can drop rapidly, and to provide life-saving antibodies through her milk. The zoo will continue to watch to see if a second panda is born. If so, the births can be as much as 24 hours apart.   Panda fans can watch mother and child as well as Mei Lan and Yang Yang, father of both cubs on monitors.  Zoo Atlanta’s newest cub brings the number of pandas in American zoos to 13. Of the four zoos with the animals, four are now in Atlanta, three in Washington, four in San Diego and two in Memphis.  Following Chinese tradition — all four of Atlanta’s pandas are on loan from the Chingdu Research base of Giant Panda Breeding in China — the newborn panda will be named 100 days after its birth.

Audubon Staff Evacuates to Avoid Hurricane

August 31, 2008  www.katc.com

NEW ORLEANS -- The Aquarium of the Americas is much more hurricane-ready than it was before Hurricane Katrina, when the generator broke down and thousands of fish and other animals died.  It now has power lines from two substations, so that if one goes down the other will kick in, and three levels of generators.  A new, bigger 1,500-kilowatt generator can run 85 percent to 90 percent of the building's life support system. If that goes out, a smaller generator can handle about half that. If that too fails, smaller generators will be set up to power different parts of the aquarium.  Guards are also at the aquarium.  Although crisis teams remained at the aquarium and the Audubon Zoo, staffers evacuated the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species on Sunday. "It's just too threatening. We just can't risk it," research director Betsy Dresser said. "As much as we'd like to (stay), we agreed that if it's above a Category 3 we just can't risk life there."  The staffers were taking with them the research center's "frozen zoo" _ 15 canisters holding thousands of eggs, sperm, embryos and skin samples from endangered animals.  Unlike the zoo and aquarium, the center is on New Orleans' west bank, in an isolated area. After the storm, staffers will probably take a helicopter to check on the 350 animals and assess damage, Dresser said.  Most of those are cats of various sizes _ two lions, two tigers, two cougars, 160 domestic cats used as surrogate mothers for smaller wildcats, and the wildcats. Those are all in buildings _ most of the smaller cats because that's where they live and the big cats because they're dangerous. The 70 cranes and 24 hoofed animals will stay in their outdoor cages and pens.

USFWS Proposal Could Doom Bighorn Sheep

August 31, 2008  www.mydesert.com

The USFWS is proposing to modify designated critical habitat areas for the bighorn sheep, about 800 of which exist in the mountains above the Coachella Valley and into areas of San Diego and Imperial counties.  The proposal adds about 36,000 acres of protected habitat, mostly in lower elevations. It includes areas of the Santa Rosa Mountains along the southern Coachella Valley running east to near the Salton Sea, and portions of the San Ysidro, Pinyon, Vallecito and Jacumba mountain ranges.  But some environmental groups have noted that the 384,000 acres of protected sheep range is less than half of the 845,000 acres originally protected in the federal government's 2001 critical habitat designation.  “(The) revised proposal is a blueprint for extinction, not recovery,” said Lisa Belenky, senior attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity. Jane Hendron, spokeswoman for Fish and Wildlife's regional office, said  “We have further refined our criteria of what constitutes essential habitat for Peninsular bighorn sheep to really hone in on those areas that are essential to the species, meaning without which you can't have recovery,” she said. “Critical habitat is not meant to include the entire range of a species, except in extraordinary circumstances.”  Belenky said the changes exclude alluvial fan and canyon bottomlands essential for sheep calving and create a lack of connectivity between protected areas.  “They're cutting out large areas, so they are creating a fragmented habitat,” she said. “The bighorn need these movement corridors.”

Seneca Park Zoo Polar Bear Dies

September 1, 2008   www.wham1180.com

Yukon, the 18 year old 'patriarch' of the Seneca Park Zoo fell ill on Thursday and died Sunday in his sleep,  three hours after being examined by veterinary staff.  Dr. Jeff Wyatt says the initial necropsy findings show that Yukon had an abdominal cavity infection related to pancreatitis. A definitive diagnosis will be made after lab results are back within six weeks.  Although polar bears can live to be 30 years old,  only a small percentage live past 15 to 18 years.  Yukon and his mate Aurora have successfully raised four cubs at the zoo's Rocky Coasts exhibit.  Those cubs have gone on to start their own families at zoos across the country.

Paignton Zoo’s Innovative Visitor Program

September 1, 2008  www.thisissouthdevon.co.uk

Visitors can now get a free personal tour from their very own animal expert at the Paignton Zoo.  The zoo has launched Zoo Highlights, a series of MP3 files available through the website www.paigntonzoo.org.uk  The 24 separate segments each last about 30 seconds and provide extra information such as the names of animals, what they eat and facts about their natural habitats.  Because the tour comes in individual files, it means guests can just take the parts they want and listen to them in any order. It's like taking along your very own zoologist. There's information on rare species such as Asiatic lions, Sumatran tigers, Bornean orangutans and black rhinos; on exhibits such as Crocodile Swamp, Lemur Wood, Monkey Heights, the Nocturnal House and the Reptile Nursery; on visitor favorites such as elephants, giraffe, flamingos and baboons; and on some of the more unusual animals like the cassowaries, giant tortoises and mandrills. The free tour is the perfect way to get more out of a trip to the zoo and compliments the Zoo guidebook and information boards.

Jacksonville Zoo’s Growing Bonobo Colony

September 1, 2008  www.northfloridanewsdaily.com

JACKSONVILLE, FL - Mabruki, a 26-year-old male bonobo from the Fort Worth Zoo, is now on exhibit in the Great Apes’ bonobo yard at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. He was reunited with his mother, Lorel, a 39-year-old female who is the matriarch at the Zoo, and gave birth to him at the Yerkes National Primate Reserve Center in Atlanta, Georgia. When he was nine,  Mabruki was transferred to the Fort Worth Zoo. On their first day next to each other in the night house, Mabruki and Lorel spent a significant amount of time grooming one another, which the Zoo employees feel may have been a sign of recognition.. Mabruki is also the son of Bosondjo, the former male patriarch atthe Jacksonville who passed away in the summer of 2005. Mabruki has joined siblings Kaleb, Lily, Kuni, Lexi and Lucy, bringing the zoo’s total number of bonobos to seven, including two males and five females.  Mabruki has never had an opportunity to produce offspring and was recommended to the Jacksonville Zoo by the Bonobo Species Survival Program (SSP) for that purpose. The SSP has also recommended other bonobos for the Jacksonville group. Two males and two females will arrive from San Diego Wild Animal Park this fall.  The adult male in that group is the preferred breeding male for Jacksonville, due to genetics. He will be allowed to breed with three females at the Zoo and Mabruki, as the secondary breeding male, will be allowed to breed with two females.

Colchester Zoo’s South African Nature Reserve

September 1, 2008  www.eadt.co.uk   By James Hore

The Colchester Zoo and its charity arm, Action for the Wild, have created a private nature reserve in Kwazulu Natal, South Africa, from three former cattle farms covering 20,000 acres. Known as UmPhafa, the reserve was previously managed as farmland  Zoo director,  Anthony Tropeanohopes and Rebecca Parry, the zoo's conservation officer are flying out tomorrow to oversee the capture and release of  2 female white rhinos, aged between five and seven.  The pair was purchased from other reserves and the move will cost more than £40,000 - a figure greatly increased because of the willingness of people to pay big money to “trophy hunt.”  Once the female pair has settled and matured, a male will be introduced.  Since 2006, giraffe, zebra, blesbok, red hartebeest, common reedbuck, serval cats and waterbuck along with the African rock python have been introduced to UmPhafa.  It is estimated that the reserve - which lies in a malaria free zone two hours from Durban and three hours from Johannesburg in an area rich in Zulu history - will be able to support up to 12 white rhinos. The land covers a 1,200 foot gradient from the banks of the Tugela River to the top of the hills creating a diverse range of ecosystems including open grassland and bushveldt.

New Technology Sheds Light on Frog Fungus

September 1, 2008   www.wildlifeextra.com

Physicist Dr Mark Dickinson from the Photon Science Institute and Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology at the Manchester Museum plan to use medical diagnostic equipment to examine the skin of Costa Rican tree frogs.  Infrared reflection spectroscopy and photography does not cause harm or distress and allows images to be obtained from the surface and within the tissue of the frogs.  Hopefully they information will provide better understanding of the alarming global decline in amphibians.  They will use a stripped down portable version of their usual lab equipment and are investigating ways of powering his equipment without electricity.  Mr Gray also hopes to find a pair of the extremely rare Isthmohyla rivularis frogs, so they can be brought back to Manchester for breeding, before being released back into the wild. Tree frogs prefer to live on leaves and branches high above ground, and unlike other frogs, enjoy basking in the hot sun.  The scientists believe global warming is leading to more cloud cover, denying them the opportunity to 'sunbathe' and kill off the Chytrid fungus - a fatal infection that is causing many species to die out.  They have observed that the skin of sun bathing tree frogs sometimes undergoes a visible change and becomes almost metallic in texture. They think that when this happens, the level of absorption and reflection and the skin temperature change.  They believe that tree frogs are able to bask under a fierce sun because they have the ability to regulate their body temperature and prevent overheating through the unique structure and properties of their skin.  The University of Manchester researchers, whose trip is being funded by the Photon Science Institute, Chester Zoo and The Manchester Museum will be accompanied by staff from the zoo. Chester Zoo's involvement reflects its support for the conservation of the Rana Vibicaria frog species, which is only found in the Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve. The zoo and Manchester Museum are the only places in the world currently breeding these frogs.

Kakapo Nutrition Crucial to Breeding

September 1, 2008  www.physorg.com

AUKLAND, New Zealand – Kakapo, the world’s largest parrots, live on two predator-free islands - Codfish Island, off the west coast of Stewart Island, and Anchor Island, in Dusky Sound, Fiordland. Their population numbers 91. Female kakapos tend to lay eggs only when rimu trees fruit heavily –only every three to five years. Dr David Raubenheimer at Aukland’s College of Sciences' Institute of Natural Resources has developed a mathematical model that assesses the nutrient balance of the kakapo’s diet to determine the best food for kakapo in years when rimu trees do not bear fruit.  The tool compares the balance of nutrients needed by animals and the balance of nutrients in foods. It has been used to analyse dietary components for other birds as well as humans, spiders, insects and fish.   Until now, conservationists have favoured protein-enriched food supplements for kakapo, on the basis that protein is known to be an important nutrient for breeding in many species. But 25 years of experimenting with a variety of nutritional supplements has not led to a marked improvement in kakapo breeding.  Dr Raubenheimer's analyses suggest that it is unlikely that protein is the limiting nutrient for kakapo breeding, but rather that calcium is.  "Calcium is needed in high levels during breeding, for the development of egg shells and for bone growth," Dr Raubenheimer says. "It is also significant that kakapo have an unusually large skeleton and hence a high demand for calcium."  Rimu fruit contains high levels of calcium, which might be the reason that kakapo breed only when these are abundant.  Using the tool, scientists will try to work out the correct balance of calcium to introduce to the diet and hope that will lead to more regular breeding and hasten population growth. 

Animals’ Perception of Death

September 1, 2008  www.nytimes.com  By NATALIE ANGIER

In nearly all species of apes and monkeys in the wild, a mother will react to the death of her infant by clutching it to her breast and treating it as though it were still alive. For days or even weeks afterward, she will take it with her everywhere and fight off anything that threatens to snatch it away. Primatologist Sarah Hrdy, author of “Mother Nature” and the coming “Mothers and Others,” said it made adaptive sense for a primate mother to hang onto her motionless baby and keep her hopes high for a while. “If the baby wasn’t dead, but temporarily comatose, because it was sick or fallen from the tree, well, it might come back to life.  We’re talking about primates who have singleton births after long periods of gestation. Each baby represents an enormous investment for the mother.”  Michael Wilson, an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Minnesota who has studied chimpanzees at Jane Goodall’s research site in Gombe, said chimps were “very different from us in terms of what they understand about death and the difference between the living and the dead.”  Juvenile chimpanzees display signs of genuine grief when their mothers die. In one famous case in Gombe, when a matriarch of the troop named Flo died at the age of 50-plus years, her son, Flint, proved inconsolable. Flint was 8 years old and could easily have cared for himself, but he had been unusually attached to his mother and refused to leave her corpse’s side. Within a month, the son, too, died.

Tracking the Western Ground Parrot

September 1, 2008  www.abc.net.au

Authorities on Western Australia's south coast are trying to track the western ground parrot as part of the effort to save the species from extinction.  The critically endangered birds are found in the Fitzgerald River National Park, east of Albany, and Cape Arid National Park near Esperance. Alan Burbidge from the Department of Environment and Conservation says officers in Esperance are trying to catch the birds and fit them with radio transmitters.  Dr Burbidge says there are only about 140 parrots left in the wild and the department needs to learn more about their breeding patterns and habitat.  "We're not sure exactly why they're declining, but we believe that it may be to do with predation, and we suspect that cats may be part of this," he said.  "The idea about catching a couple of birds and radio tracking them, particularly to find their nest, is that we suspect that this is when the predation is occurring. They nest on the ground, they're very unusual parrots."

Wolves Would Rather Eat Salmon

September 1, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

A new report published in the journal BMC Ecology suggests that when salmon is available, wolves will reduce deer hunting activity and instead focus on seafood.  Chris Darimont from the University of Victoria and the Raincoast Conservation Foundation, Canada, led a team of researchers who studied the feeding habits of wolves in a remote 3,300km2 area of British Columbia. As Darimont describes, "Over the course of four years, we identified prey remains in wolf droppings and carried out chemical analysis of shed wolf hair in order to determine what the wolves like to eat at various times of year".  For most of the year, the wolves tend to eat deer, but in autumn, when salmon becomes available, they shift their preferences.  The wolves' taste for fish is likely based on safety, nutrition and energetics. Darimont said, "Selecting benign prey such as salmon makes sense from a safety point of view. While hunting deer, wolves commonly incur serious and often fatal injuries. In addition to safety benefits we determined that salmon also provides enhanced nutrition in terms of fat and energy".

Rhinoceros Calf at Wild Animal Park

September 1, 2008   www.imperialvalleynews.com

ESCONDIDO, California - The San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park released its newest Indian rhinoceros onto its Asian Plains Exhibit on Monday. The calf, Kaya, kept close to her mother, Goalpara, while exploring water and food supplies in the area, and was given a brief introduction to several other Indian rhinos. The mother also showed Kaya into one of the water holes where the 300-pound calf had her first swimming experience.  “I haven’t seen a calf as young as Kaya get that deep into a watering hole,” said Andy Blue, Animal Care Manager for the Wild Animal Park. “She took right to it and swam around her mother and back to the shallow end where she could stand.”  Kaya, whose name means “immense joy” in the Pali dialect of Asia, is the 10th calf for Goalpara and is the 56th Indian rhino born at the Wild Animal Park. The Park leads the world in captive reproduction of rhinos. Three of Kaya’s siblings also live with her in the Asian Plains exhibit at the Park.

Atlanta Panda Cub Put in Incubator

September 2, 2008   www.ajc.com    By  Leon Stafford

ATLANTA -- ,” Dennis Kelly, chief executive officer and president of Zoo Atlanta said Tuesday that the male giant panda cub born this weekend is in “guarded” condition and was put in an incubator because its mother, Lun Lun, had put it down twice and the cub had lost body heat.  Lun Lun’s move was unusual because giant pandas normally never let go of their offspring in the first fews weeks after birth.  The zoo hopes to reintroduce the newborn to its mother around 1 p.m. today. They hope they have stabilized the cub enough so that Lun Lun will resume mothering.  Zoo officials think part of the pronblem is that Lun Lun may not have been creating enough mother’s milk. The milk provides antibodies to fight off infections during the cub’s first few days.  When officials retrieved the cub Monday evening around 6 they noticed it was almost hypothermic and malnourished. They immediately put it on a food program using milk from Lun Lun and wrapped the cub in a blanket and put it in an incubator.  The cub successfully began eating and its temperarture improved, but is far from out of the woods. This is Lun Lun’s second cub, her first cub, Mei Lan, turns 2 this Saturday.  The Panda-cam will remain off for now.

Captive Breeding of Lange's Metalmarks Butterfly

September 2, 2008  www.montereyherald.com

The Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Preserve was the site of the first release of 30 endangered Lange's metalmark butterflies reared in captivity.  The 55-acre preserve a mile west of the Antioch Bridge is the one place on Earth that the species lives. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service called for the captive breeding when the count of adult Lange's metalmarks plunged from 2,300 in 1999 to 45 in 2006.  A team of 15 biologists from Moorpark College and the USFWS successfully reared the butterflies in a greenhouse during the past year from egg to caterpillar to adults, and were pleased when many of the released insects headed straight to buckwheat flowers to drink nectar to sustain them in the last act of their adult life of nine to 14 days before laying eggs.

Binterong Exhibit at Birmingham Zoo

September 2, 2008  www.pressconnects.com

ROSS PARK, N.Y. – Benjamin, a 4-month-old Binterong (Bearcat) will be moving into a newly constructed $100,000 exhibit at the lower portion of the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park. The exhibit is part of a larger makeover for a zoo that's hoping to regain accreditation from AZA. The zoo lost accreditation in 2005 because of its deteriorating condition and problems with financial support.  Accreditation makes it easier to get animals on loan from other zoos and improves opportunities for grants, explained Janis. The lower zoo didn't have direct access to water until recently. Handlers used to carry buckets of water to cages, he said. Some of the old exhibits, which basically consist of wire wrapped around wooden poles, still remain in the lower portion, but the bamboo façade of Benjamin's exhibit is a bright contrast. The zoo has managed to raise more than $380,000. Groups such as the Hoyt Foundation and Bothar Construction have helped fund improvements.  Another larger exhibit, called Wonders of Nature, has 80 percent of the funding needed for construction, and will begin next month. The Klee Foundation allotted two grants totaling $230,000, and the Teddy Bear Artists allotted another $25,000.  Some of the animals that will be housed in the exhibit include Golden Lion Tamarins, snow leopard, cougar, gila monsters and Susquehanna River amphibians known as hellbenders.. A third exhibit dedicated to lemurs also has $20,000 toward an estimated $60,000 price tag. Construction could start in the spring, said Janis.

Ohio Zoos' Conservation Efforts

September 2, 2008  www.cleveland.com 

The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Asian Turtle Project: The zoo began protecting Asian turtles in 2000, spending nearly $300,000 since then on research and salary for its employee in Hanoi. This year a zoo-supported researcher in Vietnam discovered of the last known wild survivor of a giant, soft-shelled Swinhoe's turtle in a rural lake outside Hanoi, Vietnam.  Scientists will continue to observe the turtle and may work on a way to get it mated with one in captivity in another lake in downtown Hanoi. The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens established a conservation research center in 1986 dedicated specifically to saving endangered plants and animals from extinction. Researchers for the center work both in Ohio and abroad to help endangered species. The Toledo Zoo has spent thousands of dollars and sent scientists abroad to help bring the Virgin Islands boa back to Puerto Rico in 1993 and the Virgin Islands in 1996.

Amur Tiger Numbers Up in Russia

September 3, 2008  www.enn.com 

The Amur tiger can weigh up to 450kg and measures about three metres from its nose to the tip of its tail.  In 1950, only about 40 were alive in Russia’s Ussuriisk nature reserve near the Chinese border.  Now there are around 450, one of the strongest tiger populations in the world.  Poachers still target the animal for illegal markets, particularly in nearby China. Hunters are also a threat, with an illegal tiger trap being discovered on an adjacent hunting reserve last year.  To publicize their plight, Vladimer Putin, now Russia’s prime minister, was taken on a trip into the Ussuriisk nature reserve to see how researchers monitor the Amur tiger in the wild. He helped measure the tiger’s incisors before placing the satellite transmitter around its neck. WWF-Russia, active in efforts to protect the Amur tiger for many years, is delighted at the wide publicity the tiger has received.  “This was the same tigress I tracked in January 2004 in the same place in Ussuriiskii,” said Dr.Yury Darman, Director of the Amur branch of WWF Russia. Dr Darman said no state authority has real responsibility for the implementation of the 1996 Conservation strategy of the Amur tiger in Russia with basic financing still coming from international funds.

New Report on Albatross Conservation

September 3, 2008  www.enn.com 

The albatross is officially the most threatened seabird family in the world.  At least 28 species of albatross and petrel have been caught by South African fisheries, of which 13 are threatened with extinction. The birds are caught trying to retrieve bait from longline fishing hooks, or are injured or killed during trawling operations. A deterioration of their breeding habitats and targeted hunting operations are other factors.  Samantha Petersen, head of the WWF-South Africa Responsible Fisheries Programme, said that a new report - “Understanding and Mitigating Vulnerable Bycatch in Southern African Trawl and Longline Fisheries” - improved substantially the understanding of the circumstances under which seabirds were killed.  The report, which follows WWF’s release of the results of four years of groundbreaking longline marine turtle bycatch data in Latin America, reinforces the need for fishermen to implement the mandatory and readily available measures that help prevent birds from becoming entangled in fishing gear.  The report says that bird-scaring lines have proved to be simple yet effective way of preventing seabirds from being snagged during longline fishing, and similar measures have helped limit the impact of other fishing techniques.  The report describes the movements of two of the most common species, Black-browed and White-capped Albatrosses, in South African waters and provides insights into how they are using the waters and how much they are dependent on fishery discards.

Yerkes Creates Model of Chronic Stress

September 3, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

In an effort to better understand how chronic stress affects the body, researchers at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University, have created an animal model that shows how chronic stress affects behavior, physiology and reproduction.  According to lead researcher Mark Wilson, PhD, chief of the Division of Psychobiology at Yerkes, "Chronic stress can lead to a number of behavioral changes and physical health problems, including anxiety, depression and infertility."  Via the animal model, the researchers found corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) is a key neurohormone involved in stress response. Wilson explains, "CRF is located in several different brain regions, serving different functions. Its release is important for our ability to adapt to every day stressors and to maintain our physical and emotional health."  In response to stress, CRF levels rise; CRF levels decrease when the stressor no longer is present. Chronic stress, however, increases the length and volume of expression of CRF in areas of the brain associated with fear and emotion, including the amygdala. Such chronic stress changes the body's response, and the resulting increased expression of CRF is thought to be the cause of such health-related stress problems including anxiety, depression and infertility.  The study is available in the current online edition of Molecular Psychiatry.

Dallas Zoo Receives $5 Million Gift

September 3, 2008  cbs11tv.com

The Dallas Zoological Society has received a three-year pledge of $5 million from the Harold Simmons Foundation.  The pledge is specifically for the new African savanna habitat, a $40 million exhibit that will feature elephants, giraffes, lions, warthogs and several other species native to Africa.  The new exhibit is scheduled to be complete in 2011 and will be built in two phases. Phase I of the savanna will consist of four acres of land dedicated to elephants. The new habitat will cost $10 million and will be at least 15 times larger than the Dallas Zoo's current elephant exhibit.  The phase is being funded with City of Dallas bond money. The Simmons Foundation comes in to play with the final phase of the project that will be funded by private contributions. (Simmons was also a major contributor in the building of Oprah Winfrey's girls' school in South Africa.)   Phase II will include some seven acres of land dedicated towards giraffes, lions, hyenas, warthogs, and a variety of African hoofstock

No Panda for Rio Grande Zoo

September 3, 2008  www.alamogordonews.com

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Albuquerque City Hall's $56,000 effort to acquire a Chinese panda for the Rio Grande Zoo has been abandoned.  ''The Chinese thought there were too many panda pairs in the United States,'' said Ray Darnell, Albuquerque's director of cultural services. Chinese officials indicated they might not send more of the animals again to any U.S. zoo, he said. Chinese government leaders appeared to be carefully considering the idea during Albuquerque's 2 1/2-year effort, and it is not clear it was rejected, Darnell said.  The city had proposed a project to bring young pandas to the zoo, in partnership with the San Diego Zoo and Sandia National Laboratories.  The city's expenditure on the effort included travel to China and legal fees. Giant pandas are housed at four U.S. zoos: Atlanta, San Diego, Memphis and Washington, D.C. 

Green Sea Turtle Research Permit Request

September 3, 2008  www.epa.gov

Michael Salmon, Florida Atlantic University, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, Florida 33431-0991, has applied in due form for a permit to take green (Chelonia mydas) sea turtles for purposes of scientific research.  The application and related documents are available for review upon written request from: Permits, Conservation and Education Division, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910; phone (301)713-2289; fax (301)427-2521;  Written or e-mail comments must be received on or before October 3, 2008. Mail”  Chief, Permits, Conservation and Education Division, F/PR1, Office of Protected Resources, NMFS, 1315 East-West Highway, Room 13705, Silver Spring, MD 20910. E-mail. To:  http://NMFS.Pr1Comments@noaa.gov  Include in the subject line of the e-mail comment the following document identifier: File No. 13573.

Boy Injured at Vancouver Zoo Bird Show

September 3, 2008  www.canada.com   By Mary Frances Hill

VANCOUVER -- The Greater Vancouver Zoo is re-evaluating its raptor show after a four-year-old boy who volunteered to take part was left scratched and bleeding after a hawk landed on his head. Veteran trainer Gary Worley asked the boy - to grab a rope with a lure resembling a stuffed rabbit attached to the opposite end.  The boy was then instructed to run with the rope behind him, a move that prompted a Harris hawk to swoop down on the rabbit  "The trainer asked the little boy to drag the rabbit with the bird on top of it towards him. At that point . . . the bird jumped off the rabbit and landed on the little boy's head, injuring him. The hawk named Morgan has been a feature of the raptor show for six years.  Zoo employees stopped the show, applied first aid before an ambulance arrived and followed up on the boy's condition with his parents, who assured them he was fine, Henderson said.  The incident led zoo staff to remove Harris hawks from the raptor shows and re-consider the potential impact of bringing volunteers into close contact with birds of prey.  In June, an eagle in the show was killed after it landed in the lion enclosure.

Costa Rica Zoos May Change Ownership

September 3, 2008  www.costaricapages.com

The Simón Bolívar Zoo, located in San José’s Barrio Amón, may soon change hands from the federal government to the municipal. If transferred, the park, which is home to more than 450 animals, would devote more energy toward conservation, research, and education.  Under the proposed law, the federal government would donate the Simón Bolívar Zoo land and facilities to San José municipality. Under its new ownership, the zoo would undergo remodeling and upgrades, allowing it to pursue its stated goals. A similar proposal is also underway for the Santa Ana Conservation Center (el Centro de Conservación Santa Ana), although the 2 are not related.

Atlanta’s Panda Cub Back With Mom

September 3, 2008  www.ajc.com   By LEON STAFFORD

ATLANTA -- Zoo officials first removed Lun Lun’s new cub late Monday after she put it down twice, (pandas are extremely protective during the first few weeks of life.) When she put it down the second time, it was not moving or vocalizing.  Lun Lun has handled the interval removals of her offspring better than zoo officials expected “She does show some agitation when the cub is removed, but settles quickly when the keepers offer her water and sugar cane. She responds to the cub immediately when it’s returned, cradling and nursing the cub without missing a beat.”  Why Lun Lun released the cub so early in its development and why its temperature and health declined so suddenly Monday are still unknown, but the cub started Day 4 at a normal 128 grams, adding an impressive 7 percent to his body weight since yesterday, indicating that Lun Lun is producing enough milk and appropriately caring for the cub. The cub has also been vigorous in his vocalizations and has been suckling enough to continue to put on weight.”  To make sure the newborn continues to progress, the staff is removing the cub for frequent check ups.

Petition to List the Three Ice Seal Species

September 4, 2008   www.epa.gov 

The (NMFS) announce a 90-day finding on a petition to list three ice seal species, [ringed (Phoca hispida), bearded (Erignathus barbatus), and spotted (Phoca largha)] as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although the petition identifies ringed seals as Pusa hispida, at this time we believe that the ringed seal is more properly identified as Phoca hispida. We find that the petition presents substantial scientific or commercial information indicating that the petitioned action of listing the ice seals may be warranted. Therefore, we have initiated status reviews of the ice seals and are soliciting scientific and commercial information regarding all of these ice seal species.  Information and comments must be submitted to NMFS by November 3, 2008.  You may submit comments, information, or data, identified by the Regulation Identifier Number (RIN), 0648-XJ97, by any of the following methods: Via the Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov, Mail: Assistant Regional Administrator, Protected Resource Division, NMFS, Alaska Regional Office, P.O. Box 21668, Juneau, Alaska 99802-1668, Facsimile (fax): (907) 586-7012. Interested persons may obtain a copy of the ice seal petition from the above address or online from the NMFS Alaska Region website: http://www.fakr.noaa.gov/protectedresources/seals/ice.htm. For further information conact: James Wilder, NMFS Alaska Region, (907) 271 6620; Kaja Brix, NMFS Alaska Region, (907) 586-7235; or Marta Nammack, NMFS, Office of Protected Resources, (301) 713-1401.

Three Servals Born at E. Idaho Zoo

September 4, 2008   www.localnews8.com

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho - The three serval cubs were born last month at the Tautphaus Park Zoo and will go on display Saturday.  The serval is 1 of 7 species of African cats that weigh up to 41 pounds.  The eastern Idaho is the second in the nation to successfully breed the cats.  Zoo officials say the cubs will eventually be sent to other zoos in the country as part of a program to increase numbers of the cats.

Grevy Zebra Born at Edinburgh Zoo

September 4,  2008  news.scotsman.com   By HAZEL MOLLISON

There are only between 1500 and 2000 Grevy’s zebras surviving in their native Africa, but one was born at the end of Juy at the Edinburgh Zoo.  Florence is now being introduced to visitors after being born at the end of July. She and her mother, Emily, are both said to be doing very well, alongside her father, Frank, and two-year-old brother, Alan. Kathleen Standen, head of hoofstock at Edinburgh Zoo said: Ms Standen said the European breeding programme, which is essential to helping ensure the future of the species, suffers a shortage of females and "Grevy's zebras are the fastest declining African mammal in the last 30 years – 90 per cent of their range has gone and 70 per cent of their population. In 2006 they faced an anthrax outbreak as well as serious drought. If it had not been for the mass vaccination program and supplementary feeding, the effects could have devastated the population in Kenya. With so many pressures it could be easy for a disease to wipe out the wild population. This is why it is very important to a have a captive population held in different locations. There are over 500 Grevy's zebras in the European breeding programme.

Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center

September 4, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk

Costa Rica used to be teeming with amphibians, but numbers have plummeted in recent years - largely because of a deadly fungus.  Brian Kubicki's Costa Rican Amphibian Research Center  occupies 112 acres (45 hectares) of rainforest.  It has the highest concentrations of amphibians anywhere in Costa Rica, and was established 2002.  He has spent the last few years conserving and modifying the land to transform it into an amphibian haven.  Brian said that it stands in stark contrast to Monteverde and other highland areas.  There, frogs and toads are now seldom seen. One reason is the chytrid fungus that has swept through the area, a disease to which many species fall prey.

Santa Barbara Zoo Introduces “Ranger Tours”

September 4, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

Santa Barbara Zoo just introduced Zoo Ranger™, a self-guided multimedia tour device that gives visitors a behind-the-scenes tour of the zoo that’s the closest thing to a personal tour with a zookeeper.  Zoo Ranger is a patent-pending handheld video tour guide system that delivers informative and entertaining full-color videos, audio, photography and animation based on location using the power of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. The tour includes about 18 points of interest throughout the zoo and offers a closer look at many of the zoo’s most interesting species. The Zoo Ranger experience is completed with the addition of animal I.D.s, fun facts and interactive trivia where visitors can earn points by answering questions about the animals, exhibits and video segments. A dynamic zoo map shows where visitors are in relation to other points of interest and facilities. At predetermined GPS points in the park, Zoo Ranger automatically triggers. Developed and designed by BarZ Adventures, the leading provider of hand-held GPS visitor guiding systems, Zoo Ranger utilizes innovative GPS technology to enhance the visitor experience and take it to the next level of interactivity.

WCS Saves “Extinct in Wild” Kihansi spray toad

September 4, 2008  news.mongabay.com  By Rhett Butler

The birth of Kihansi spray toadlet at the Wildlife Conservation Society's Bronx Zoo has renewed hopes that the species can someday be successfully reintroduced to its natural habitat in a remote gorge in Tanzania.  The Kihansi spray toad is believed to have been driven to extinction by the destruction of its only known habitat — the Kihansi gorge in the Southern Udzungwa Mountains of South Central Tanzania — by a hydroelectric project. Its demise was hastened by the appearance of the deadly chytrid fungus, a pathogen that is taking a heavy toll on amphibians around the world. The last confirmed sighting of the species in the wild was in May 2005. Anticipating the impact of the dam, conservationists worked with the Tanzanian government to establish a captive breeding program for the species, but the program was initially fraught with difficulties associated with a particularly fragile species, including disease. By the spring of 2004, the worldwide captive population of the Kihansi spray toad was down to 70.  Since then the outlook for the species has been improving. A captive breeding program by the Bronx Zoo has brought the facility's population up to 300 toads, including the dozen born last week (unlike most other amphibians, spray toads have live birth, rather than laying eggs). Kihansi spray toads are now also breeding successfully elsewhere.

WCS says it plans to with Tanzania to return some of these toads to their habitat where a sprinkler system has been installed to counter the ecosystem changes caused by the hydroelectric dam. Reintroduction will require complete eradication of the chytrid fungus from the gorge.  Still while it looks increasingly likely that the Kihansi spray toad has escaped its brush with extinction, amphibians are still in big trouble worldwide. According to the recent Global Amphibian Assessment, about a third of amphibians are threatened with extinction. Pollution, the introduction of alien species, habitat destruction, over-collection, climate change, and the emergence of the pathogenic chytrid fungus have driven more than 170 species to extinction over the past two decades. In an effort to save the most at-risk species, last year saw the launch of the Amphibian Ark, an initiative by zoos, aquariums, and botanical gardens to establish captive populations for 500 species.

Last Woolly Mammoths From North American

September 4, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

HAMILTON, ON – A DNA-based study has revealed that the last of the woolly mammoths—which lived between 40,000 and 4,000 years ago—had roots that were exclusively North American. "Scientists have always thought that because mammoths roamed such a huge territory—from Western Europe to Central North America—that North American woolly mammoths were a sideshow of no particular significance to the evolution of the species," said Hendrik Poinar, associate professor in the departments of Anthropology, and Pathology & Molecular Medicine at McMaster University.  "Migrations over the land bridge that once spanned the Bering Strait were rare; it served as a filter to keep eastern and western groups or populations of woollies apart, says Poinar. "However, it now appears that mammoths established themselves in North America much earlier than presumed, then migrated back to Siberia, and eventually replaced all pre-existing haplotypes of mammoths."  The research, which appears in the September issue of Current Biology.

The origin of mammoths is controversial in itself. Some scientists believe that the first proto-mammoths arose in Africa about seven-million years ago in concert with ancestors of the Asian elephant. Around five to six million years ago, an early mammoth species migrated north into China, Siberia and, eventually, North America. This early dispersal into North America gave rise to a new mammoth known as the Columbian mammoth. Much later, back in Siberia, a cold-adapted form—the woolly mammoth—evolved and eventually crossed over the Beringian land bridge into present-day Alaska and the Yukon. What happened next, says Poinar, is a mystery: The Siberian genetic forms began to disappear and were replaced by North American migrants.

Asian Vulture Recovery Efforts Not Enough

September 4, 2008   www.ns.umich.edu

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Captive breeding colonies of a critically endangered vulture, whose numbers in the wild have dwindled from tens of millions to a few thousand, are too small to protect the species from extinction, a University of Michigan analysis shows.  Adding wild birds to the captive colonies, located in Pakistan and India, is crucial, but political and logistical barriers are hampering efforts according to a study published online August 15 in the journal Biological Conservation.  When any large population crashes, as the vultures have, the amount of genetic diversity in the population also is likely to dwindle. This is a concern, says lead author Jeff A. Johnson, because a population's genetic diversity reflects its ability to adapt to environmental challenges such as changing climate or outbreaks of disease. Without the ability to adapt, populations and whole species may become extinct. The research team used museum specimens collected before the decline began, along with recent feather and tissue samples from birds in Pakistan's last remaining wild breeding colony, to see how genetic diversity in the wild population has changed as the population has plummeted. Then, assuming captive populations of various sizes, they used computer simulations to determine how large captive populations must be to preserve genetic diversity.  The analysis showed that while there was still a fair amount of genetic diversity in the wild population two years ago when their last samples were obtained, current captive populations are not large enough to maintain that diversity if the wild populations are wiped out—a fate that seems inevitable if people keep using diclofenac, a drug that is widely used to alleviate arthritis-like symptoms in livestock but is toxic to vultures.. The simulation results also suggest that levels of genetic diversity in the wild may already be in decline.

Johnson's coauthors on the Biological Conservation paper are Martin Gilbert of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Munir Virani and Muhammad Asim of the Peregrine Fund, and former U-M professor of ecology and evolutionary biology David Mindell, now at the California Academy of Sciences. The researchers received funding from The Peregrine Fund.

Testosterone and Male Marmoset Parenting

September 4, 2008  www.news.wisc.edu   By Terry Devitt

WISCONSIN – Testosterone, the most abundant male hormone in primates, is responsible for secondary male characteristics, such as muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, bone mass and sex drive, and some  studies suggest it may also contribute to male aggressiveness. Marmosets live in family groups and babies frequently arrive in pairs.  Because they are also quite large, (approximately 10 percent of adult weight) the female really can't assume all of the parenting responsibilities so fathers join in the care-giving within a few hours of the birth.  Toni Ziegler, and colleagues from the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center (WNPRC) have found that when exposed to the scent of their own offspring, marmoset dads experience a marked decrease in testosterone. Marmoset males are known to be responsive to female scents, but this new study is the first to show that male physiology can also be influenced by a particular odor from a baby marmoset.  In the study, experienced male marmoset fathers were isolated from their families — and their odors — and then presented with either a scent from their infants' genital area or a control scent. Similarly, males with no experience as parents were presented with the same odors. Blood tests taken within 20 minutes of exposure revealed a marked decline in testosterone for only those experienced males given the scent of their own babies. "This shows the male is responsive to chemical cues from their infants," explains Ziegler. ""We saw no behavioral response, but we saw in every single father a significant decline in testosterone. What we are seeing is the system is flexible and that it adjusts up and down," says Ziegler. "It is interesting that the infant can have this parenting effect on the fathers."  The study was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health and appears in the Sept. 2 Biology Letters.

Canadian Government Protects Arctic Wilderness

September 4, 2008  www.birdlife.org

The Canadian Government has announced that it will protect more than 450,000 hectares of Arctic wilderness in Nunavut province, including a globally significant Important Bird Area, by establishing three new National Wildlife Areas: Niginganiq (Isabella Bay), Qaqulluit (Cape Searle) and Akpait (Reid Bay). All three sites are located on the north-east side of Baffin Island in Nunavut.  Two of Canada’s Important Bird Areas are found within the Qaqulluit and Akpait NWAs. which means critical breeding and feeding grounds for millions of migratory birds will be preserved. In another recent announcement, Ontario State Premier Dalton McGuinty, pledged to permanently protect 225,000 square kilometres of boreal forest in the northern area of the province. Covering more than 20% of Ontario's total land mass, the area to be protected is roughly the same size as the United Kingdom. McGuinty also announced a sweeping mining reform package that is unprecedented in North America in recognizing the role of First Nations and the need to share resource benefits with local communities. The vast boreal region in northern Ontario represents 43% of the province's land mass and has been identified as one of the world's most significant and largest intact forest and wetland ecosystems.  In May, the Quebec government announced that they will protect more than 18,000 square kilometres of forest and wetlands in 23 new conservation areas. Fifteen of these new conservation areas are in the boreal zone.  The move will bring the province closer to its pledge to protect 8% of its natural spaces from development by the end of 2008. The new conservation areas amount to more than one per cent of Quebec's total area.

Future of Biocuration

September 4, 2008  www.nature.com  By Doug Howe, et al

The exponential growth in the amount of biological data means that revolutionary measures are needed for data management, analysis and accessibility. Online databases have become important avenues for publishing biological data. Biocuration, the activity of organizing, representing and making biological information accessible to both humans and computers, has become an essential part of biological discovery and biomedical research. But curation increasingly lags behind data generation in funding, development and recognition.  A group of scientists is proposing three urgent actions to advance this key field. First, authors, journals and curators should immediately begin to work together to facilitate the exchange of data between journal publications and databases. Second, in the next five years, curators, researchers and university administrations should develop an accepted recognition structure to facilitate community-based curation efforts. Third, curators, researchers, academic institutions and funding agencies should, in the next ten years, increase the visibility and support of scientific curation as a professional career.

Oldest Gorilla Dies at Dallas Zoo

September 5, 2008  www.dallasnews.com

Jenny, 55, the world's oldest captive gorilla, died Thursday as the result of an inoperable stomach tumor.  The tumor had interfered with her ability to eat and drink, officials said in a statement today.  In May, she celebrated her 55th birthday with a cake made of frozen treats.  She came to the Dallas Zoo in 1957 and in recent years had been a part of a national study on menopause in female gorillas. She shared the north habitat of the Jake L. Hamon Gorilla Conservation Research Center with a male gorilla, Timbo, 46. The zoo has three other gorillas – Patrick, 18, and two females Tufani,18 and Makena, 9 – who arrived at the zoo earlier this year.  Jenny's death comes just a month after Hercules, a 43-year-old male silverback gorilla died in August of cardiac arrest. In May, KeKe, a 39-year-old female, African elephant died of congestive heart failure and in April the zoo's lone lion, Boris, a 415-pound African lion died. He had multiple growths in his chest cavity. Last September, Hildy, the world's oldest giraffe at the time, died at the zoo.  A standard necropsy and histopathology will be performed.

Two Orphaned Alaskan Brown Bears Move to Indianapolis

September 5, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

Two orphaned Alaskan brown bears cubs, 8-month-old male and female littermates, will be moved from the Alaska Zoo in Anchorage to the Indianapolis Zoo in September. The cubs were orphaned when Alaska Fish & Game officials were forced to kill their mother because she was implicated in multiple episodes involving hikers, bikers and joggers.  The cubs were turned over to the Alaska Zoo, where more than half of the animal collection consists of orphaned or injured animals. Following the deaths of the Indianapolis Zoo’s two geriatric Kodiak bears (one in 2007 and one earlier this year), Forests Curator Lynne Villers had reached out to her professional colleagues, letting them know that they had space available. Michael Crowther, Indianapolis Zoo President and CEO said  “These bear cubs and their mother are a perfect example of the ongoing conflicts between humans and wildlife that exist around the globe. Human/wildlife conflict is at the core of the work done by three Indianapolis Prize finalists (cheetah researcher Laurie Marker, tiger expert K. Ullas Karanth, and snow leopard advocate Rodney Jackson) and central to the landmark accomplishments of a fourth finalist, Save the Elephants’ Iain Douglas-Hamilton.”

Another Fire Threatens LA Zoo Condors

September 5, 2008  www.courant.com

A fast-moving wildfire erupted Sunday in Griffith Park, forcing the evacuation of thousands of people from the Los Angeles Zoo and briefly threatening a breeding center for endangered California condors before firefighters and water-dropping helicopters gained control of the fire. The fire burned 25 acres of heavy brush but caused no structural damage or injuries in an area west of the zoo Jason Jacobs, a zoo spokesman, said about 4,000 people were told to leave. 18 California condors, including five chicks, and two king vultures from the condor breeding center were placed into crates and moved to a large shady spot in the center of the zoo as the fire got closer to the condor facility on the zoo's west side.  Sunday's fire occurred about 1 1/2 miles from the site of last year's wildfire that consumed 1,200 acres in the park  The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Visiting Cambodia’s Phnom Tamao Zoo

September 5, 2008  www.jaunted.com

The Phnom Tamao Zoo, which doubles as a refuge for animals rescued from the illegal wildlife trade, is quite popular among Cambodians, but rarely makes the average tourist's itinerary, but more travelers should make the fascinating trip. Although there are hundreds of animals, including lions, tigers, bears, leopards and elephants, there isn't a lot of money for their upkeep.  Cages are minimal, with nothing more than a simple wire fence, and instead of warnings prohibiting visitors from feeding the animals, local entrepreneurs set up shop outside the cages, selling visitors treats to pass on to the hungry animals. Otters clamor for fresh fish, thirsty sun bears beg plaintively for green coconuts and at least one of the gibbons has developed a taste for local cans of beer. Other gibbons like to get scratched on the head. Elephants; they seem friendly and harmless, but get too close and they'll drench you in water or use their trunks to whack you with stalks of sugarcane.  There are two species of bears, Asiatic black bears and sun bears. Both species are often captured by poachers, and more than 70 rescued bears now live in a large enclosure at Phnom Tamao. It's even possible to help care for the bears as a volunteer through the organization Free The Bears. A tuk-tuk ride to the zoo and back should cost around $20 and takes about 90 minutes one-way.

Aberdeen Zoo is Selling Off Animals

September 5, 2008  www.argusleader.com    By Elizabeth Reiss

ABERDEEN, South Dakota -- Wylie Park Zoo in Aberdeen has extra animals, and is looking for buyers.  The zoo hopes to sell two bison, three elk, three llamas and two sika deer. "We plan to do a private sale. We'll find out who is interested in what animals and have them put in a bid," said Mark Hoven, parks superintendent in Aberdeen.  Depending on which animal a person is interested in, a buyer might need special licensing from the South Dakota Animal Industry Board, Hoven said.  It is unlikely that another zoo will buy the animals, Hoven said, because zoos already share animals routinely.  It is not uncommon for a farmer to buy buffalo from a zoo, said Aberdeen Area Humane Society supervisor Kayla Beard. "There are some buffalo nearby in Ipswich, so maybe they'll go there," she said. Beard said it's usually the best option for zoos to sell surplus animals.  Anyone with an interest in buying the animals should call Hoven at 605-626-7015 or e-mail the Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department at prf@aberdeen.sd.us.

Floods Kill Rhinos in India

September 6, 2008  timesofindia.indiatimes.com

GUWAHATI, India -- After poachers, floods have turned out to be a major killer of one-horned rhinos at the famed Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site located on the southern banks of the Brahmaputra in Assam.  Altogether 168 rhinos have died due to floods between 1974 and 2007. During the period, 385 rhinos were gunned down by poachers in the park, while 210 pachyderms fell to pit poaching. Twenty-two rhinos died after getting stuck in mud, while four died after being hit by speeding vehicles in an attempt to flee the sanctuary during floods. In 1998, 30 rhinos died in the park due to flood related reasons. Tiger attacks on the pachyderms were also high in the last three decades with the big cats alone killing 419 rhinos in Kaziranga.

Snub-Nosed Monkey Population Increases

September 6, 2008  en.ce.cn

GUIYANG, China -- The number of wild snub-nosed monkeys, an endangered species found only in China's southwestern Guizhou province, has more than doubled to around 850 over the past three decades.  The monkey, the rarest among the three species of golden monkeys found in China, mainly lives in the 419-sq-km mountainous Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve in Guizhou.  Thanks to the steady improvement of the environment and government protection their numbers have risen from  the 400 individuals counted in 1979.  The monkey's reproductive cycle is three to six years, and it is on the list of China's most endangered wild animals. Since 1992, the officials of the nature reserve have successfully bred 16 such monkeys in captivity under a special programme.

Nature Conservancy’s Wabash River Survey

September 6, 2008  www.h-ponline.com

OHIO -- The Wabash River Watershed encompasses 33,195 square miles in Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois.  It is the longest free-flowing river east of the Mississippi River.  The Nature Conservancy contracted with the Midwest Biodiversity Institute to synthesize historical data collected from the Wabash River and its major tributaries and used this data to create a comprehensive Wabash River biological assessment, and will now hold community meetings to share the results of this assessment with interested local people.  Mary McConnell, state director for The Nature Conservancy said the Wabash “is a crucially important river system for freshwater species diversity. To better protect the river, we needed to better understand the components of the river system. The Wabash River assessment has identified what animal and plant species depend on the river for habitat and sustenance and where they are found along the river.  The assessment also has identified the stresses on the river system, as well as the sources of those stresses. There are approximately 51 species of plants, animals, and habitats that are considered endangered, threatened, or rare in this reach of the river.  Not only is the Wabash a critical biodiversity resource for Indiana, it is also globally significant, with over 400 occurrences of rare species and communities within the drainage.  

Video Footage of Red-eyed Stream Frog

September 7, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk  By Rebecca Morelie

The red-eyed stream frog is found in Costa Rica, is thought to be critically endangered, but was spotted by a team from the University of Manchester, Chester Zoo and Costa Rican naturalists. BBC News cameras captured footage of the naturalists as they studied the frog. The red-eyed stream frog, or Duellmanohyla uranochroa, measures just 2-3cm in length, and has bright red eyes and a vivid green colour.  This male was discovered in the Monteverde cloud forest area where it was sitting above a stream calling for a female.  The team played a recording of the soft, whistle-like call of another male red-eyed stream frog, which prompted him to call back, enabling them to locate the little amphibian.

Bison at Camp Pendleton Came From SD Zoo

September 7, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com   By Mike Lee

In the early to mid-1970s, the San Diego Zoo gave Camp Pendleton 14 bison because they didn't have enough room to keep the animals. “The mammal curator at the San Diego Zoo called and asked me if we could accommodate some bison. They had more than they could handle and they had canvassed every zoo in the country and nobody wanted them,” said Bill Taylor, now 96, Camp Pendleton's natural resources director at the time. The commanding general of the base accepted the offer, and the zoo donated five male and nine female bison to the base between 1972 and 1976. The herd is now up to 150 animals living in the northeast corner of the 125,000-acre installation.  Marines use air horns to move them out of training areas.  Although there were an estimated 40 million in North America in 1800, a century later their numbers had dropped to 600. Through conservation efforts, they have increased to about 500,000 today.  Thanks to Camp Pendleton's size, its group is among the few free-roaming bison herds in the nation. And thanks to the base's isolation, the herd also may be among the most genetically pure. Most bison alive today have genes from ancestors that were bred with cattle to make them better for human food production.  The few genetically pure bison herds in the United States include those in the Yellowstone and Wind Cave national parks. Camp Pendleton's bison are originally from Yellowstone and presumed to be plains bison, not their northern cousins known as wood bison, said Eric Kershner, leader of wildlife management for the base.  Marine Corps officials have hired James Derr, one of the nation's top geneticists, to determine if their herd is pristine enough to interest conservationists who run a large reserve near Malta, Mont. They might take some Camp Pendleton bison as part of their project to safeguard the species' genetic integrity.

Newt Gingrich’s Favorite Zoos

September 7, 2008  www.app.com

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives, says his first act of public service was a childhood visit to a City Council meeting in his hometown of Harrisburg, Pa., where he gave an impassioned speech on why the city needed a zoo. "We didn't get the zoo, but since then I've had the pleasure of touring dozens of zoos around the world," says Gingrich, who wrote an introduction for the new book "America's Best Zoos." His favorites:
San Diego : One of the largest and most progressive zoos in the world, the San Diego Zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, "cageless" exhibits. The zoo also operates the Wild Animal Park "These two great facilities combine to form the best zoo in the world, with an amazing array of quality exhibits."
Zoo Atlanta : The zoo my daughters grew up visiting.  Zoo Atlanta has a world-class gorilla exhibit, and the reptile house has a superb collection that includes two Komodo dragons." The zoo also boasts impressive naturalistic habitats for elephants, black rhinos, Sumatran tigers and a pair of giant pandas. "I donated the two black rhinos, so I have a special pride in this exhibit."
Orlando, Fla.: Animal Kingdom is an extraordinary experience of animals, rides and performances. The exhibits have the scale and creativity you associate with Disney. The African safari ride is terrific and worth riding several times.  There’s an interactive animal conservation exhibit for kids, and a troop of rare Silverback gorillas.
New York City : Its penguin exhibit is terrific, and the seals are a permanent center of attraction for children.  Completely revamped in the mid-1980s, the facility also added a children's zoo in 1997 that lets kids interact with gentle creatures up close.
New Orleans : They have done a brilliant job here creating a modern zoo in a historic park setting. The Louisiana swamp exhibit is truly spectacular.
Washington, D.C. The cheetah exhibit here is first-rate, and the reptile house is fascinating," Gingrich says. "There is also a wonderful orangutan exhibit where the orangs can climb from one area to another over the heads of visitors.
Cincinnati : On of the most diverse animal collections in the world, with more than 500 species. They also have a really good insect exhibit." In June, the zoo unveiled a new giraffe habitat that allows visitors to encounter the animals at eye level
Tucson, Ariz.  The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is a zoo, museum and botanical garden all in one, featuring interpretive displays of animals and plants native to the Sonoran Desert, an arid region encompassing parts of Arizona, California and northern Mexico. Among the animals on display are mountain lions, Gila monsters and the rare Mexican wolf.
Hershey, Pa.: ZooAmerica "is the place where I spent many wonderful childhood afternoons wandering around and imagining that someday I could become a zookeeper," Gingrich says. "It's built around a stream and has beautiful winding walkways

Minnesota Zoo’s Renovation Plans

September 8, 2008  www.bizjournals.com

The Minnesota Zoo plans to remove the meerkat exhibit to make room for construction of a “Forest Adventure Playground.” The play area will feature sculptures, suspension bridges and other features and is expected to open next summer.  A new visitor and learning center will open in 2012 and will feature a section for viewing “social animal species,” such as penguins and meerkats.

Flooding in India’s Kaziranga National Park

September 8, 2008  www.hindu.com   By Sushanta Talukdar

KAZIRANGA, Assam --  As the waters began to recede in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), authorities found seven hog deer, three rhino calves and a swamp deer have died.  The deer were run over by vehicles on National Highway 37 that passes through the park. Two rhino calves drowned in the flood waters and the third was eaten by a tiger.  Adult rhinos are good swimmers and the problem they face during floods is the submergence of their fodder. KNP Director S.N. Buragohain said rangers are exploring the park on elephants, boats and on foot to establish the death toll.  Mr. Buragohain said that the return of all the animals might take more than a month. The rhinos would wait for new grass to grow in their habitat. Till then, they will stay in temporary shelters on the Karbi Anglong side. Some rhinos and hog deer have taken shelter on highlands inside the park.  According to the last census in 2006, the KNP had a rhino population of 1,855. The authorities, however, estimate that it has now gone up to over 2,000.

Chimpanzee Study at Chester Zoo

September 8, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk  By Jonathan Amos

Dr Orlaith Fraser, a Liverpool John Moores University researcher  and colleages spent 18 months observing 22 adult chimps at the Chester Zoo.  They observed closely what happened immediately after the animals had a fight over food, a mate or simply where to sit.  In about 50% of cases, the victim in the fight would be consoled by another member of the group. The soothing was always done by a valuable - or best - friend, a chimp with whom the victim would routinely play or share food.  The consolation usually took the form of a kiss or embrace, a grooming session or even play.  The scientists could see that this activity had the effect of reducing stress levels, indicated by the return to the animals' normal activities of self-scratching and self-grooming.  "Sympathetic concern" has also been observed in gorillas, bonobos, dogs and even rooks - but it is the calming effect that it had on the Chester Zoo chimps which is said to be a new observation. The results of the Chester Zoo study were recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Japanese Polar Bears Turn Green

September 8, 2008  www.ananova.com

The polar bears at the Higashiyama Zoo and Botanical Gardens changed color after swimming in an algae-filled pond.  Zoo official Masami Kurobe said high temperatures in July and August and less-frequent water changes because of the zoo's conservation efforts had caused an algae growth in the bear pond and safety moat.  Mr Kurobe added that the algae enters hollow spaces in the bears' fur and was hard to rinse off.  The bears are expected to return to their natural colour when the algae growth subsides in November.  http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_2999217.html

Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden Revitalized

September 8, 2008  www.courierpress.com

EVANSVILLE, Indiana -- Long a source of public pride and public participation, the Mesker Park Zoo & Botanic Garden suffered in the 1990s from a lack of care and in lost its accreditation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums.  A lot of hard work, money and love has brought the zoo back to the point that it eventually regained its accreditation. While various types of facelifts were discussed, “Amazonia” was the one selected to give the zoo a new look.  As a result, the zoo drew just over 38,000 visitors during the month after the $13 million Amazonia rain forest exhibit opened Aug. 4. -  a one-month record for the zoo, topping the 27,841 visitors who came to the zoo in May 2005.  That record attendance translated into revenue of $281,563, and that doesn't include concessions or vending. For the same time period in 2007, the zoo brought in $65,890 and in 2006, it brought in $89,622, according to the city.

Reintroduced Red Kite Killed Within Weeks

September 8, 2008 www.independent.co.uk    By David Young

Red kites are gradually being reintroduced at sites across the UK, but one of the birds recently released in Northern Ireland was recently found dead.  The bird was one of 27 kites released by the RSPB in the region in July at the start of a three-year reintroduction programme.  Wing tags and an identifying leg ring had been removed from the four-month old bird before it was recovered by the RSPB. Red kites are a globally threatened species and their reintroduction became a celebration of the return of an iconic species to Northern Ireland, where they had not been seen for 200 years.  Dr Mark Avery, the RSPB’s director of conservation, said “RSPB Northern Ireland had been working tremendously hard behind the scenes for a number of years to get the Red Kite Reintroduction Project off the ground, and we are determined to see it succeed.  Primary school pupils were to have been offered the chance to track the life of the bird through the RSPB’s Adopt A Kite initiative.  “Red Kites, like all wild birds, are protected by law under the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985. As such, any person involved in this type of crime could find themselves subject to a report to the Public Prosecution Service.”

Florida Turtle Preserve Closes

September 8, 2008  www.tcpalm.com 

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Florida — Al Weinberg’s Allapattah Flats Turtle Preserve in western St. Lucie County is closing in spite of the retired Bronx firefighter’s efforts to help preserve rare turtle species.  His turtles are almost all gone — victims of his inability to care for the expansive area after the death of his wife, two hurricanes and the “bad guy” image given to him by the people with whom he worked in 2001.  Those people spent six weeks on his property sorting and treating the endangered turtle species from the jungle of southeast Asia.  The turtles had been saved from Chinese cooking pots and later found homes in the zoos, preserves and private collections of the world.  “But I was bad guy because I had been in the (commercial) business of importing and selling turtles,” said Weinberg.  Lori Green, executive director of Turtle Homes, the largest turtle resettlement organization in the United States, called the turn of events a “great loss to turtle conservation in the world. He was a dealer, someone who sold turtles trapped in other countries,” said the woman whose organization has operational facilities in Okeechobee and has a headquarters in Las Vegas. “I was a conservationist committed to stopping that practice. But he started breeding rare turtles that were almost extinct, and he did what no one else was doing. What happened to him was just politics, all politics in the environmental field.”  Green said Weinberg was the only successful breeder of the Vietnamese Pond turtle, scimauremys annamensis. The turtle is now virtually extinct in Vietnam.

WWF Enlists NZ Lifeguards to Watch for Maui Dolphins

September 8, 2008  www.scoop.co.nz

850 west coast lifeguards from New Zealand beaches will be extending their duties to watching for Maui’s dolphins, the rarest marine dolphins in the world.  They are part of WWF’s Maui’s Sightings Network, a reporting facility that WWF uses to track where the Maui’s dolphins are from season to season.  The new partnership between WWF and the West Coast Surf Life Saving clubs means that when the lifeguards see a Maui’s dolphin, they report it to WWF conservationists. They will give the dolphin’s location, time of sighting, the distance from shore and whether any juveniles are in the group. Maui’s live only along the west coast of the North Island, and nowhere else in the world, but human activity including set net and trawl fishing has been killing them and just 111 Maui’s now survive. “We’re really stoked to have the lifeguards on board,” says Victoria Travers, WWF-New Zealand’s Maui’s dolphin education coordinator. The lifeguards’ involvement came about when Travers approached Rob Wakelin, General Manager of Piha Surf Life Saving Club about using the club as a venue for WWF’s Maui’s education teacher workshop. Rob was concerned to hear that Maui’s are critically endangered and asked how the club could get involved and help. The partnership between WWF and the West Coast lifeguards comes amid Conservation Week celebrations (www.conservationweek.org.nz ) an annual Department of Conservation-organized week of events. This year the theme is ‘Meet the Locals’.

Bearded Vultures Prefer Fat on Bones

September 8, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

A study by Antoni Margalida from the Bearded Vulture Study and Protection Group in El Pont de Suert, Spain, has found that the bearded vulture will discard less energy-dense bones and choose only the bones containing the highest fat content both for its consumption and delivery to its young. His findings¹ will be published this week in Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology.  The bearded vulture is the only vertebrate with a bone-dominated diet and can ingest bones up to 28 cm (11 inches) long and up to 4 cm (1½ inches) wide. This makes sound ecological sense because due to their high fat content, mammal bones actually have a higher energy content than muscle tissue. To aid ingestion or transportation, the bearded vulture breaks up large bones on rocky surfaces, known as 'ossuaries', throwing the bones down from the air until they break up into small enough pieces to be swallowed or carried. Bearded vultures are one of the few species of vulture who do not feed their young by regurgitation but transport prey remains to the nest in their feet and bills.

Oregon Zoo Breeds Spotted Frogs

September 9, 2008   www.oregonlive.com

PORTLAND - In March 2008, Oregon Zookeepers collected about 300 eggs from Conboy Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Washington, where the species' largest existing population resides. Throughout the spring, the eggs hatched into tadpoles under the supervision of the zoo's amphibian-rearing expert Steve Hash. In late September, the zoo expects to release their 290 frogs to a wetland in Olympia, Wash., in an attempt to restore a population conservationists believe may have died out. "We hope they'll have a better chance of surviving through breeding age next spring," said David Shepherdson, deputy conservation manager at the zoo. "The chytrid fungus is definitely present in the Oregon spotted frog population, but we don't know yet how much mortality it's causing," said Shepherdson.  The Oregon spotted frog captive-rearing effort is a project of the NWZAA, (10 Pacific Northwest zoos and aquariums supporting conservation in the region.) All told, the zoos hope to release up to 1,000 amphibians back into the wild this year, with more planned over the next several years. Restoring the population is only one of the steps necessary to saving the species, Sherpherdson said. "We need to preserve more wetland habitats, increase the health of the habitats by reducing pollution, and manage those habitats so they're less favorable to bullfrogs."

Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s Enrichment Day

September 9, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

Rosamond Gifford Zoo will host “Bringing Out Their Wild Side!” on Saturday, September 13, to showcase their enrichment program. Shawn Graham, a zookeeper is chair of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo’s enrichment committee.  Schedule of enrichment activities (free witjh admission):

10:00 a.m.                   Bobbing for Apples                                   Guinea Hog
10:15 a.m.                   Training Tips                                             Emma the Dog
10:30 a.m.                   Papered Prey                                            Lions
11:00 a.m.                   Creature Coaching                                    Parrots (Bird Show Yard)
11:10 a.m.                   Search! (an activity for humans)               Bird Show Yard
11:30 a.m.                   Papered Prey                                            Tigers
12:00 p.m.                  Feeding Frenzy                                          Penguins
12:15 p.m.                  Jiminy Crickets                                           Ocelots
12:30 p.m.                  Hanging Around                                         Fruit Bats
1:00 p.m.                    Barrel of Fun                                               Spectacled Bears
                                    Pachyderm Picasso                                   Elephants
1:30 p.m.                    Box of Fun                                                  Red Wolf
2:00 p.m.                    Right on Tar get                                          Condor
2:15 p.m.                    Sheet Hammock                                         Siamangs
2:30 p.m.                    Feather Frenzy                                           Fossa
3:00 p.m.                    Creature Coaching                                     Sand Cats
                                    Insect Buffet                                              Diversity of Birds
3:15 p.m.                    Melon Mash                                                Elephants

San Francisco Zoo Status Update

September 9, 2008  www.sfgate.com  By Marisa Lagos

Animal welfare advocates and zoo supporters attempted last-minute tactics Monday to sway opinion in advance of today's scheduled Board of Supervisors vote on whether to turn the city-owned zoo into a facility for rescue animals. Legislation proposed by supervisor Daly could dramatically change how the zoo operates. Here's what the measure does:
-- Establishes the zoo as a facility that "primarily houses wildlife, domestic and exotic animals acquired from rescue situations. Almost all new animals would have to be rescued.
-- Requires that the zoo involve conservation and education in all zoo programs and make animal welfare the top priority.
-- Bars the zoo from keeping or adding animals "unless the animals' basic requirements for physical and psychological well-being can be met."
-- Will allow the zoo to participate in limited breeding of endangered species such as some tigers, lions, gorillas, giraffes and snow leopards.
--Creates a five-member Zoo Animal Welfare Oversight Committee appointed by the Board of Supervisors. One must be a veterinarian. The group will oversee the transition.

Daly said Monday that he intends to ask that the supervisors postpone the vote, acknowledging that he may not have enough support to pass the measure at this time. There have already been two contentious hearings on the legislation, and at least one supervisor, Bevan Dufty, said Monday that he would oppose any delay. Mayor Gavin Newsom has also joined the debate, sending a letter to the zoo's acting director as well as the director of the city's Recreation and Park Department, which owns the zoo but has given over its daily operations to the nonprofit San Francisco Zoological Society.  Newsom, acting at Dufty's request, recommended adding two "animal welfare" seats to the Joint Zoo Commission, an oversight body currently made up of three Recreation and Parks commissioners and three Zoological Society board members. He also asked the joint body, which is advised of all animal acquisitions and losses, to publicly justify how they chose which animals to acquire.  None of the proposals, however, directly address the zoo's largest challenge: the millions of dollars needed for improvements to animal exhibits.

40% of N.Am Freshwater Fish are Imperiled

September 9, 2008   www.usgs.gov

Nearly 40 percent of fish species in North American streams, rivers and lakes are now in jeopardy, according to the most detailed evaluation of the conservation status of freshwater fishes in the last 20 years.  The 700 fishes now listed represent a staggering 92 percent increase over the 364 listed as "imperiled" in the previous 1989 study published by the American Fisheries Society. Researchers classified each of the 700 fishes listed as either vulnerable (230), threatened (190), or endangered (280). In addition, 61 fishes are presumed extinct.  The new report, published in Fisheries, was conducted by a U.S. Geological Survey-led team of scientists from the United States, Canada and Mexico, who examined the status of continental freshwater and diadromous (those that migrate between rivers and oceans) fish.  "Freshwater fish have continued to decline since the late 1970s, with the primary causes being habitat loss, dwindling range and introduction of non-native species," said Mark Myers, director of the USGS. "In addition, climate change may further affect these fish."  This is the third compilation of imperiled, freshwater and diadromous fishes of North America prepared by the American Fisheries Society's Endangered Species Committee. Additional information is available at http://fisc.er.usgs.gov/afs/

Camera Traps Document Myanmar’s Predators

September 9, 2008  www.enn.com 

NEW YORK—By using remote camera traps in Myanmar's dense northern wild lands, researchers from the Wildlife Conservation Society have painstakingly gathered a bank of valuable data on the country's populations of tigers and other smaller, lesser known carnivores These findings will help in the formulation of conservation strategies for the country's wildlife. Researchers from WCS's Myanmar Program have combed the 3,250-square-kilometer core area (approx. 1,250 square miles) of the Hukaung Tiger Reserve, the world' largest protected area for tigers. The recently published data were gathered between December 2002 and May 2004.  During that time, the researchers photographed six individual tigers some 21 times in the reserve. Researcher, U. Than Myint, co-author of an article in the July edition of Population Ecology.  details efforts to measure tiger numbers in Myanmar's Hukaung Tiger Reserve. He estimates that  there are at least seven and potentially up to 70 tigers living in the core area. Estimating numbers of prey animals such as gaur and sambar may give an indication of how many tigers can be supported over this vast habitat, but any further ecological monitoring will likely need to be done at the same time as efforts are increased to protect tigers and their key prey species from illegal hunting and trade."

IUCN Urges a Broader View of Conservation

September 9, 2008  www.nytimes.com 

Traditional campaigns to protect wildlife tend to be conducted species by species, focused on, pandas or gray wolves, or on specific hot spots or on groups of species like whales. So it’s notable that the IUCN, a network of institutions monitoring the world’s living things, has produced a manifesto pushing environmental groups to broaden their view of what needs to be done to limit losses on the planet. The new challenge, according to the authors, is: “How do we devise strategies for society that will allow a peaceful, equitable, fulfilled human future: a humane future for a diverse earth?”  The short book, Transition to Sustainability: Towards a Humane and Diverse World, says wildlife groups need to help encourage communities to shift mindsets, not just park boundaries. One goal should be helping to build understanding of the hidden costs of excess consumption, the book says. Another is working to move the world away from energy choices that add to Earth’s accumulating blanket of greenhouse gases. The book concludes that alleviation of poverty and global equity are vital if remaining areas of intact forests and other species-rich ecosystems are to have a chance.
    • First, decarbonize the world economy: we must achieve dramatic reductions in carbon use by increased technical efficiency, and by delinking energy generation from carbon production, and
    energy use from economic growth.
    • Second, commit the environmental movement to a path of justice and global equity: justice and equity are central to any transition to sustainability.
    • Third, protect the biosphere: the conservation of nature is the fulcrum for wider change towards sustainability.

To do this we must:
    • Create an economy that can fit on a single planet: we must change the way we think about growth and prosperity, to achieve more with less. We need to use less carbon and other materials, create less waste, create more real wealth and quality of life.
    • Rejuvenate the global environmental movement: the movement must help link together communities and organizations working out practical solutions to sustainability challenges, and ways to live with more happiness and lower energy and material consumption.
    • Build an institutional architecture to bring about change: transition to sustainability depends on the collaborative and coherent actions of political and business leaders, governments (from city to nation), and an effective international environmental regime.
The Library has a copy of this IUCN document or you can view the pdf at: http://cmsdata.iucn.org/downloads/transition_to_sustainability__en__pdf_1.pdf

Oregon Zoo’s $125 M Bond Request

September 9, 2008  www.oregoncitynewsonline.com

Residents from throughout the Metro region will be asked this November to support a $125 million bond to update the Oregon Zoo. Major problems to be addressed are:
• Provide more humane elephant conditions, including expanding the elephants’ living space from one-and-a-half to six acres.
• Update the hospital and quarantine areas. All the animals must spend time in quarantine before being introduced into the zoo, and the hospital is so outdated that the zoo is risking losing its accreditation.
• Overhaul of the polar bear exhibit – the current site is a large concrete bowl that reaches high temperatures and the animals can’t see out of it. The new facility would be larger and more interesting for the animals and would allow them to look out.
• Improve hippopotamus and penguin habitats. The water features for both those habitats have no filters, and the animals defecate in the water. So every day, the bowls must be drained and refilled. Improvements would install filters to conserve water, among other things.
• Redo the chimpanzee site.
• Improve conservation education by expanding space for classes, camps and hands-on learning.
• Improve the program to breed threatened condors.
• Bonds would mature within 21 years.

Pinnacles Condor Rushed to LA Zoo for Lead Treatment

September 9, 2008  hollisterfreelance.com

A young condor from Pinnacles National Monument has been taken to a Los Angeles Zoo for emergency treatment after being found recently in a severely weakened condition possibly related to lead poisoning.  On Friday, Pinnacles and Ventana Wilderness Society biologists caputured the bird, which was unable to take flight. The California condor was dehydrated and weighed only 11 pounds, well below the normal 16- to 17-pound range for a 4-year-old, according to the monument's statement.  Biologists sent her to the L.A Zoo after a Monterey veterinary hospital examined her and preliminary tests showed elevated blood-lead levels. The condor, No. 336, was released at Pinnacles National Monument in the fall of 2005 and has become part of the Central Coast flock.

Toledo Zoo Begins Geothermal Drilling

September 9, 2008  www.wnwo.com

The Toledo Zoo plans to keep their energy costs down with a geothermal drilling plan to  provide heating and cooling to the Zoo's Aquarium.  The system will use 32 300-foot wells which will be connected to three 20-ton water source pumps and two ultra-high efficiency hot water boilers. Existing boilers at the park were installed in 1950.  Replacement with the new geothermal system is expected to reduce the Zoo's carbon footprint by over 400,000 pounds, or 38% annually.  Utility costs are expected to drop by $25,000 each year.  The project is part of the Zoo's overall Master Plan, which Lucas County voters approved in November 2006. For a map of the well field layout see: www.wnwo.com/uploadedFiles/wnwo/News/Stories/Toledo Zoo Geothermal layout.pdf

Can Invasive Species Be Good?

September 9, 2008  www.nytimes.com  

New Zealand is home to 2,065 native plants found nowhere else on Earth. They range from magnificent towering kauri trees to tiny flowers that form tightly packed mounds called vegetable When Europeans began arriving in New Zealand, they brought with them alien plants — crops, garden plants and stowaway weeds. Today, 22,000 non-native plants grow in New Zealand. Most of them can survive only with the loving care of gardeners and farmers. But 2,069 have become naturalized and have spread out across the islands on their own. There are more naturalized invasive plant species in New Zealand than native species.  It sounds like the makings of an ecological disaster, but in a paper published in August in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dov Sax, an ecologist at Brown University, and Steven D. Gaines, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, point out that the invasion has not led to a mass extinction of native plants. The number of documented extinctions of native New Zealand plant species is a grand total of three. Some scientists consider biological invasions among the top two or three forces driving species into extinction. But Dr. Sax, Dr. Gaines and several other researchers argue that attitudes about exotic species are too simplistic. While some invasions are indeed devastating, they often do not set off extinctions. They can even spur the evolution of new diversity.

Australia’s Stick Insect Breeding Program

September 10, 2008  www.smh.com.au   By Richard Macey

SIDNEY, Australia –  Lord Howe Island phasmids, are stick insects that grow more than 14 centimetres long with bodies as thick as a finger.  They are found in only one place - Balls Pyramid, a volcanic rock protrusion near Lord Howe Island. Entomologist Stephen Fellenberg, has raised about 30 of the insects and is giving a pair of adults to Sydney Wildlife World.  The Melbourne Zoo will supply juvenile insects and eggs. Hopefully a number of phasmids should be on exhibit in Sydney soon.  The phasmids thrived on Lord Howe Island until 1918, when a supply ship arrived, bringing rats. By 1920 the insects had been wiped out. In 2001 several were discovered on Balls Pyramid, 23 kilometres away, feeding on the leaves of a single tea-tree – a very precarious survival situation. The scientists found about 100 insects and two pairs were collected for breeding. One pair was sent to Melbourne Zoo, which now has about 600; the other pair was given to Fellenberg, president of Friends of the Long Lost Phasmid, a charity established to support the recovery program.  They hope to repopulate Lord Howe Island.but in order to do that,  thousands of the insects must be bred, and the rats must be eliminated which is 5 or 10 years away.  Lisa Manson, an invertebrate keeper at Sydney Wildlife World, said "We are also waiting on a group of 12 juveniles and 50 eggs from Melbourne Zoo.  We are expecting them in two weeks." Fellenberg estimated at least another $50,000 a year was needed to fund the breeding.

Male Mandrill Dies at Dallas Zoo

September 10, 2008   www.dallasnews.com

Ramses, an 18-year-old male mandrill, died of natural causes on Sunday. He lived his entire life at the Dallas Zoo. The average lifespan for a mandrill is 20 to 30 years, said spokeswoman Susan Eckert.  His exact cause of death has not been determined, but a necropsy showed abnormalities of the heart and pancreas, she said.  The zoo still has two female mandrills.

ZIMS Helps Zoos with Breeding Programs

September 10, 2008  news.google.com   By KATRINA A. GOGGINS

COLUMBIA, S.C —  Just like the digital dating services that pair up people, studbooks are used to match most animals held in captivity. The databases containing information on sex, age and weight are used by more than 200 zoos nationally and some internationally. Now, new software is promising more easily accessible data, faster matches and details on an animal's personality to ease what can be a testy process.  The Zoological Information Management System (ZIMS) is a collaboration between about 150 zoos and aquariums that's a year or two away from wide distribution.  At the very least, the software will give zookeepers better access to species-level details currently found only in zoo husbandry manuals that now are mostly e-mailed back and forth, said Bob Wiese, director of collections for the Zoological Society of San Diego, and an authority on ZIMS. Studbooks have been around since the 1980s in paper form, but today most are in computerized databases. Basic information such as family tree, medical history, age and weight are entered by studbook keepers, then sent to a central location where the data is analyzed and converted into a "master plan" for breeding.  But the databases have their limitations. They aren't updated quickly and don't include the extra information from the dog-eared husbandry manuals on setting the optimal conditions for an animal's breeding.

Buffalo Zoo’s $16M Rain Forest Opens

September 10, 2008  www.newsday.com

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Buffalo Zoo’s new $16 million South American rain forest exhibit opens today, and features a two-story waterfall, giant anteaters, vampire bats, howler monkeys, an anaconda and other rare animals.  The exhibit is designed after Venezuela's 3,000-foot-high Angel Falls, which zoo President Donna Fernandes visited in 1982. Visitors to the rain forest exhibit will traverse indoor walkways that will take them through mist from the waterfall, with viewing from a second-story platform and other overlooks.

Big Sur Condor Dies of Lead Poisoning

September 10, 2008   www.mercurynews.com

BIG SUR — A California condor captured in Big Sur has died of complications from lead poisoning.  The 4-year-old female condor died Sunday at the Los Angeles Zoo, where it was taken after capture by Ventana Wildlife Society biologists.  Society senior biologist Joe Burnett says the huge vulture was captured Friday and was later found to have six times the safe level of lead in her blood.

Monarch Butterfly Tag & Release at Lincoln Children’s Zoo

September 10, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

LINCOLN, Nebraska -- Monarch butterflies cannot survive Nebraska winters so they find roosting spots further south, along California’s coast or east of the Rocky Mountains in the mountains in Mexico. The migration is driven by seasonal changes.  They can travel up to three thousand miles and are the only butterflies to make such a long, two way migration every year. They fly in masses and often to the same exact trees.  The migration through Lincoln is most apt to happen in mid-September and Dan the Butterfly Man will answer questions about the butterflies and the tag and release program. To learn more go to: http://www.monarchwatch.org/tagmig/index.htm. One of only four children’s zoos in the country, the Lincoln Children’s Zoo’s mission is “to enrich lives through firsthand interaction with living things.”  The Lincoln Children’s Zoo will be having its first Monarch butterfly tag and release Sunday, Sept. 14, from noon to 2 p.m.

U.K. Wild Animal Park

September 10, 2008  www.nwemail.co.uk  By DAVID GILL

FURNESS, U.K.  -- South Lakes Wild Animal Park owner David Gill says “Last year was a record year for us with around 200,000 visitors. That was 45,000 up on the year before but we’re about 5,000 up on last year already. “The secret of our success is expanding and changing every year, looking at taking animals out, bringing new ones in and building new facilities.” New attractions next year are set to include a new hippo mangrove and flamingoes. Mr Gill said: “They’re in quarantine just now.”  One of the park’s rhino, Tala, is due to give birth at any time. The birth is extremely important as there are few breeding pairs in Europe. “After the summer, the visitor numbers drop from 3-4,000 a day to around 700 or 800. We cut the staff back every year and then take them back on for Easter.  “We have 37 full-time employees and five or six part-time workers and during the summer we have over 100 casual staff. We need about 30 every day in the restaurant for around 1,500 meals every day.”

Biomimicry : New Gecko-like Adhesive

September 10, 2008  www.enn.com

BERKELEY, California -- Researchers at UC Berkeley, have produced the first adhesive that cleans itself after each use without the need for water or chemicals, much like the hairs found on the gecko lizard's toes.  "It brings us closer to being able to build truly all-terrain robots, which will in the future be able to climb up walls and across ceilings in everyday environments rather than only on clean glass," said Ron Fearing, UC Berkeley professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and head of the research team developing the new material. "We can envision robots being able to go anywhere they are needed, perhaps in the search for survivors after a disaster."  The adhesive's development is reported online today in the journal Langmuir,  published by the American Chemical Society, that covers a wide range of topics, including surface properties, nanostructures and biomimetic materials. Earlier this year, Fearing's group developed another gecko-inspired adhesive using polymer microfibers that could easily attach to and detach from clean surfaces.

Romanian Dingoes Need a Home

September 10, 2008  www.abc.net.au

When Romania joined the European Union at the beginning of last year, it meant that Romania's institutions would have to satisfy the higher standards expected of EU members.  Most of Romania's zoos had to close down, because they could not afford to provide the bigger, better enclosures required by the EU.  Some of the animals have been moved to other zoos or wildlife sanctuaries but at Buhusi Zoo, in the country's north, a small group remains including three lions, four horses, some dogs and cats and four dingoes. A global animal welfare charity is asking Australians to help rescue the four dingoes, which face an uncertain future.  Unless they are found a new home in the next few weeks, it is likely they will be put down.  American animal lover Laura Simms set up the Lions Roar project to help the animals.  "Our big, big problem are the four remaining dingoes," she said. The executive director of the Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria, Martin Phillips, says Australia faces a moral obligation to make sure its native animals are well looked after in overseas zoos and parks.

Busch Garden’s $40 M “Jungala”

September 10, 2008  www.prweb.com

TAMPA, Florida -- Busch Garden's latest attraction, Jungala, opened to the public in April, 2008 The 4-arce African Jungle Village features lush rainforest landscape including towering trees, cascading waterfalls, flowing rivers, and decorative stone structures and sculptures. The attraction features tigers, orangutans, gibbons, gharials, and flying foxes.  At the tiger exhibit guest are able to play tug of war with a 220-pound tiger, watch tigers plunge into a shallow pool from an underwater viewing area, or use underground pop-up windows to come face to face with the big cats. At the orangutan exhibit guest are able to use tree-top observation platforms to watch orangutans swing in tree canopies overhead, sway in hammocks or paint with a specially-equipped brush. At Kulu Canopy guest have the opportunity to view a multi-species exhibit with white-cheeked gibbons, flying foxes, and gharials interacting as if in their natural environment. In addition to the animals, Jungala's rides include “The Jungle Flyers”, a multi-level zip line allows young adventurers to soar above the tree tops. “The Wild Surge” is a 4-story shot and drop ride nestled within a 35 ft mountain, “Tree Top Trails”, allows older children to climb a 3-story structure featuring a multi-level maze of nets, bridges, and tubes that actually duck into the gibbon area. Additional features of the attraction include a colorful village with live entertainment, appetizing restaurants, and a refreshing children's water play area for kids to escape the "jungle" heat. The area was formally known as Congo and the renovation was done by COST of Wisconsin, Inc., a specialty design/build contractor  See:  http://jungala.com/jungala/index.html 

New Cryopreservation Techniques

September 10, 2008   www.eurekalert.org

Emerging cryopreservation techniques can aid in maintaining stocks of farm animals, and endangered species against possible extinction by maintaining banks of ovarian tissue or even nascent embryos that can used to produce offspring at some point in the future. Scientists working in the human and animal arenas to preserve ovarian tissue are now reinforcing each other, following a highly successful workshop on cryopreservation of ovarian tissue, organized by the European Science Foundation (ESF). The human and animals cryopreservation fields have much to teach each other, according to the ESF workshop's convenor Claus Yding Andersen. Much of the progress in humans has come as a result of animal experiments. But it is in humans where most successful transplantations of frozen ovarian tissue after thawing have been carried out, and where greatest experience in the field has been gained. Therefore the ESF conference considered how this could be applied to conservation of endangered species. The approach used most widely so far involves slow freezing, which minimises the damage caused by forming ice crystals to the follicles. However a new approach based on vitrification may achieve even better results. Vitrification involves the conversion of ovarian tissue into a glass-like form without the damaging ice crystals, and can be achieved by very rapid freezing, for example by dowsing in liquid nitrogen. This supercools the water in the tissue, achieving a semi-solid form without formation of the crystals that destroy individual cells.

Sheep Plague in Morocco, Threatens S. Europe

September 10, 2008   canadianpress.google.com 

GENEVA — The U.N. Food and Agriculture Agency says a highly contagious sheep and goat plague has hit 29 Moroccan provinces and could spread to southern Europe.  The viral disease is known by its French name peste des petits ruminants (small ruminants' plague), or PPR.  It is closely related to cattle plague and is transmitted to goats, sheep and wild small ruminants through close contact between animals.

Hi-tech Sensors to Protect Endangered Species

September 10, 2008 www.chennaionline.com

ALLAHABAD, India -- M D Tiwari, the Director of the Indo-Swiss Centre of Microelectronics stationed at the Indian Institute of Information Technology, has announced that the Center is working to develop smart dust sensors that are capable of keeping track of endangered species.  The project is expected to cost Rs six crore and would make use of the expertise achieved by Switzerland in the area of "smart sensors" and "microelectronics."  The idea gained impetus during the ASEAN Science and Technology Week at Manila earlier this year, where the role of Information and Communication Technology in protection of wildlife was discussed.  "The special sensors would be a network of tiny wireless micro electro mechanical systems (MEMS) sensors, robots or devices, installed with wireless communications, that can give a record of the surroundings, like availability of light and temperature in which animals are living," he said.  "The sensors will also be able to keep track of vibrations in the animals body which would give a clue about their activities."

Panda Baby Boom in Chengdu

September 10, 2008  www.timesonline.co.uk

At the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Centre in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan there has been a baby boom, with 14 giant panda cubs born since January and more expected before the end of the year.  At the Wolong Nature Reserve, which was near the epicentre of the magnitude 8.0 quake, in which nearly 70,000 people died, five members of staff and one captive panda were killed. The reserve had to move many of its remaining panda population, which caused problems for its captive breeding programme.

Komodo Births by Parthenogenesis at Sedgwick County Zoo

September 10, 2008  www.scz.org    By John Boyd

WICHITA, Kansas -- The Sedgwick County Zoo has released video of one of two Komodo Dragons that were hatched at the zoo earlier this year via parthenogenesis (without fertilization by a male.)  The Sedgwick County Zoo is the first zoo in the Americas to document this sort of reproduction in Komodo Dragons. Two earlier cases were documented in 2006 at London Zoo and Chester Zoo in England.  A parthenogenetic egg needs no fertilization from a male because it inherits and duplicates the mother's chromosome. Based on a Komodo dragon's genetics of sex determination, hatchlings reproduced in this way will always be male.  The zoo says has two adult Komodo dragons; both are female and cared for separately. One female laid approximately 17 eggs on May 19-20, 2007 and Zoo staff followed the Species Survival Plan (SSP) recommendation to incubate and hatch two eggs. The two lizards hatched on January 31st and February 1st, 2008. 

Okapi Photographed in Virunga National Park

September 10, 2008  www.eurekalert.org  By Stephen Sautner

A rare okapi photographed by camera trap in Congo's Virunga National Park – is the first confirmed sighting in the park in 50 years.  The animal apparently has survived in the Democratic Republic of Congo's Virunga National Park, despite over a decade of civil war and increased poaching.  Two years ago sightings of dung and other tracks were made in the park by a team of pygmy trackers who knew Okapi sign. It is very encouraging to see that this animal has survived," said WCS researcher, Deo Kujirakwinja, who organized the recent camera trap survey. "Many animals have suffered in this park as a result of the ten years of insecurity in the region, so it's encouraging to see that the okapi has survived."  The animal's current range occurs in the Ituri Forest in northern DR Congo. They are classified as Near Threatened by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and are at risk primarily from habitat destruction.  This region has also been the hideout of a rebel group (ADF – Allied Democratic Front) who have been battling the government of Uganda unsuccessfully for over 20 years. They have been hiding in Congo for many years now and it is only recently that it has become safe to enter this part of the park. Funded by the USFWS, these surveys aimed to assess the impact of the war on the fauna and flora of this region. Preliminary results indicate that many antelope species are at low density but that some species such as chimpanzees have survived fairly well.  Dr. Andrew Plumptre is director of WCS's Albertine Rift Program.

Aukland Zoo Conservation Award

September 10, 2008  www.odt.co.nz

University of Otago frog researcher Dr Phil Bishop has been named Auckland Zoo's inaugural Conservationist of the Year.  The former co-leader of the Native Frog Recovery Group won the award for his extensive work in frog research, and communicating the conservation message about frogs to the wider community.  Dr Bishop said New Zealand's four native frogs were the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered amphibians in the world and should be national figures like the kiwi and tuatara.  Dr Bishop received $1000 towards a frog conservation project.  The Young Conservationist of the Year award went to Isabella Wilson, of Auckland, for her campaign against the use of palm oil.  Auckland Zoo conservation officer Peter Fraser said Dr Bishop and Isabella were shining examples of how people with passion and drive could really make a difference.

The Turtle Survival Alliance

September 10, 2008  www.timesfreepress.com  By Kathy Gilbert

DAYTON, Tennessee -- David Manser runs Ponds & Plants, a nursery on Highway 27.  The nursery is also the home of Burmese black mountain tortoises rescued from a Hong Kong food market, Vietnamese pond turtles that now live only in zoos and a pair of Greek tortoises with herpes.  Living in a small town in Southeast Tennessee has been no barrier to his efforts to help global species conservation, He belongs to the Turtle Survival Alliance, a nonprofit tortoise and turtle conservation group. The alliance was created in 2001 and operates in nine countries. Members include private citizens, zoos, aquariums, field biologists and researchers.  “There’s a very important place for people in the private sector within the conservation effort,” said Dave Collins, curator of forests at Chattanooga’s Tennessee Aquarium. “We do a lot of conservation programs, but we can’t do everything.”  Mr. Collins has been a Turtle Survival Alliance member since the group formed in Fort Worth in 2001.  The aquarium works with the alliance to breed eight species of Asian turtle and the federally endangered yellow-blotched map turtle, found only in Mississippi’s Pascagoula River. Last month, the aquarium reported the successful breeding of the rare Chinese Beal’s turtle for the second year in a row.  Mr. Manser, who builds habitats for zoo animals around the country, also travels the world to help the Turtle Survival Alliance breed endangered turtle species. More information is available at www.turtlesurvival.org.

Creating Meadows

September 10, 2008  www.nytimes.com

Planting a meadow is as rule-bound and time-consuming as planting any perennial border, according to Larry Weaner, a Pennsylvania landscape designer and one of the pioneers of meadow design in the United States.  Mr. Weaner, 55, has created more than 100 perennial meadows around the country, including 24 along the New York State Thruway, a commission he received in 1999. When he began designing meadows in 1982, after attending a summer course at Harvard in landscape design, there was little interest in them, he said.  But in the last few years, things have begun to change. This year his firm, Larry Weaner Landscape Design Associates, is working on 18 new meadows, a threefold increase over last year, and attendance at the annual conference on naturalistic gardening held by New Directions in the American Landscape, a nonprofit organization he runs, was double what it was last year.

Armoured Mistfrog “Rediscovered”

September 11, 2008  www.enn.com  

SYDNEY, Australia (AP) -- The 1.5 inch-long Armoured Mistfrog had not been seen since 1991, and many experts assumed it had been wiped out by a devastating fungus that struck northern Queensland state,  but two months ago, a doctoral student at James Cook University, conducting research on another frog species in Queensland stumbled across what appeared to be several Armoured Mistfrogs in a creek.  Conrad Hoskin, a researcher at The Australian National University in Canberra who has been studying the evolutionary biology of north Queensland frogs for the past 10 years, conducted DNA tests on tissue samples from the frogs and determined they were the elusive Armoured Mistfrog.

Elephant Ultrasonic Communication

September 11, 2008   www.newscientist.com 

It is believed that elephants in the wild use low-frequency calls, (capable of traveling more than 2 kilometres) to help keep herd members in contact while they forage. Katherine Leighty, a behavioral ecologist at Disney's Animal Kingdom and colleagues have published a new study on the phenomenon in the current issue of Animal Behaviour.   They studied five captive elephants living in 4-hectare outdoor enclosure. "They're not related by blood, yet some of them seemed to have formed social bonds." Said Leighty.  They were assisted by bioacoustic scientist Joseph Soltis, who attached a digital audio and GPS recording collar system to each elephant.  The production of rumbles and subsequent movements of the five adult female African elephants was documented.  This recording system allowed the researchers to identify the producer of each rumble and to document the effect of rumbles on the movements of herd members relative to the caller.  Their findings provide the first empirical evidence that spontaneously produced elephant rumble vocalizations function in part to mediate the spatial relationships of group members. Approach  behavior was enhanced if the partner was highly affiliated with the caller, if the partner replied with a rumble of her own, and if the pair was initially far apart (≥61 m). Rumble production was likely to result in avoidance behavior only when there was no rumble reply by the partner and the pair was close together prior to the initial call. This allowed the scientists to sync the movements of each animal in response to a rumble.  After one elephant rumbled, another moved closer to it, the team found. If the two elephants were good friends – determined by how often they stuck together – and the second elephant rumbled back, the elephants moved even closer to one another, compared to less convivial pairs.  "Everybody knows that this is how the [rumbles] function, but this really proves it in a really clear way," says Mya Thompson, a behavioral ecologist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, who also studies African elephant communication. But the system requires each animal to have a unique call. "We haven't really nailed down precisely what structures in the calls allow animals to distinguish familiar callers from unfamiliar callers," she says. "We know they can do it, but we're not presently sure how."

$1 million to Des Moines Zoo

September 11, 2008  www.chicagotribune.com

DES MOINES, Iowa - Elizabeth Kruidenier’s family foundation has given $1 million to the Blank Park Zoo Foundation. The gift is part of a fundraising effort to expand and renovate the Des Moines zoo. Plans call for expanding the 23-acre zoo to more than 103 acres with walking trails, new exhibits and rides.

Great Plains Zoo Rhino Moves to Chicago

September 11, 2008  www.argusleader.com    By ELIZABETH REISS

Kapuki, a 3-year-old, Eastern Black Rhinoceros, is now en-route from  the Great Plains Zoo in Sioux Falls to Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago – a 600-mile trip. Elizabeth Whealy, Great Plains Zoo director, explained that the zoo participates in 17 endangered breeding programs. And Kapuki is one of only 69 in captivity. “The population of these rhinos had dwindled down to about 2,000,” Whealy said. “But through these kinds of programs, we've boosted that number up.”  Kapuki is moving to Chicago because she has a good possibility of producing offspring there. Katheryn Gamble, the director of veterinary services at Lincoln Park Zoo, will follow the truck back to Chicago in a separate car. She will care for Kapuki along the way, feeding and watering her at stops. Lincoln Park zoo recently transferred its female rhino to a zoo in Little Rock, Ark. That female had been selected for the male there, but things didn't work out with the two. Kapuki's absence will allow her parents, who both live at the Great Plains Zoo, to hopefully have more offspring, Whealy said.  Sioux Falls construction company Jans Corporation donated the machinery and manpower to help with Kapuki's transfer.

Local TV Station Investigates Car Thefts at San Diego Zoo

September 11, 2008   www.cbs8.com

The News 8 CrimeFighters received an email from a viewer who was hit in the Zoo's parking lot last month.  "When I returned to my vehicle my catalytic converter was stolen off my truck. “ the e-mail said “According to police, it is happening all over San Diego."  Catalytic converters are part of your vehicle's exhaust system and are valuable because of the precious metals inside, including platinum, which thieves take to recycling centers. Late model Toyota trucks and SUVs are popular targets because of high ground clearance, and the catalytic converters are easily removed.  The San Diego Zoo says they take car theft seriously, and security officers patrol the parking lots. There's even a crow's nest up above as an "eye in the sky" to spot suspicious behavior.  The News 8 CrimeFighters ran the numbers for car thefts at the San Diego Zoo parking lot over the past 90 days. Within the past three months, there were 24 car break-ins and one car stolen.

Dinosaur Evolution Study

September 11, 2008  www.sciencemag.org

Dinosaurs epitomize both success and failure. Failure because they went extinct suddenly 65 million years ago; success because they dominated terrestrial ecosystems for well over 100 million years evolving into a wide array of species that reached tremendous sizes.  Many scientists argue that they must have had some feature or characteristic that helped them out-compete other vertebrate groups, including crocodiles and close crocodile cousins. Steve Brusatte and Professor Mike Benton are the first to look at the overall picture of the evolution of dinosaurs and their closest competitors during the Triassic period (251 to 199 million years ago). First, they identified the most likely 'competitors' to early dinosaurs: the crurotarsan archosaurs, a large group of animals that are closely related to crocodiles.  Unlike today's crocodiles, Triassic crurotarsans were amazingly diverse. There were enormous quadrupedal predators, slender bipedal predators, swift bipedal omnivores, fish-eaters, root-grubbers, and low-to-mid-browsing herbivores. Many of these crurotarsans look nothing like crocodiles, but instead are eerily similar to dinosaurs and, in fact, have been mistaken for dinosaur ancestors, or even true dinosaurs, in the past.  The researchers examined the evolutionary pattern of dinosaurs and crurotarsans in the Late Triassic. Using a very large dataset of anatomical characters – nearly 500 features of the skeleton – and a new family tree of the entire archosaur group, they measured evolutionary rates and morphological disparity (a measurement of the range of different body plans and lifestyles that a group has). "Why did crurotarsans go extinct and not dinosaurs? We don't know the answer to that, but we suspect that it was nothing more than luck, plain and simple."

Bristol Zoo Nominated for Environmental Award

September 11, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

The London-based environmental consultancy, CarbonPlan, has designed a system for the Bristol Zoo to measure and report its environmental impact.  Named SALOME , the  environmental accounting strategy tool has enabled the zoo to reduce its carbon footprint by 39.6 per cent since 2006, a reduction of 370 tonnes of carbon per year.CarbonPlan has also worked with Bristol Zoo Gardens to develop a set of Sustainable Development Guidelines for its National Wildlife Conservation Park at Cribbs Causeway.  The Zoo has now been short listed for an environmental excellence award by Europe's biggest environmental website, Edie (Environmental Data Interactive Exchange), for developing this project.

Wyoming Bighorn Population

September 11, 2008  www.jacksonholestartrib.com  By Chris Merrill

LANDER, Wyoming -- The statewide bighorn sheep population has been on the decline in recent decades, and in the past 20 years it has dipped 15 percent, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department estimates. The Whiskey Mountain herd, the Cowboy State's most famous, has dwindled to about 700 animals from over 2,000 less than 20 years ago, said Greg Anderson, a wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Anderson has been studying the group in the northeastern portion of the Wind River Range outside of Dubois.  It's not all bad news for bighorns in Wyoming, he said, as other herds throughout the state have seen some upticks in their numbers in recent years. Still, the general, long-term trend has been a shrinking population.  Evolutionary geneticists believe bighorns originated in Siberian Asia and crossed to North America by way of the Bering Strait more than 700,000 years ago.  Two centuries ago, bighorn sheep thrived in the American West. While it's impossible to know with great accuracy how many there were, biologists estimate more than a million and perhaps more than 2 million of the animals once grazed in current-day Canada, northern Mexico and the United States. Today, most estimates put the total number below 60,000, with about 25,000 to 30,000 bighorns roaming the North American Rockies.

Whale Evolution

September 11, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com

Scientists have known whales evolved from semiaquatic, four-footed deerlike mammals with long, thin tails to today's fully aquatic mammals with fluked tails, no back legs, and flippers instead of front legs. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/12/071219-whales-evolved.html  But it was previously unknown when the tail flukes first arose in the whale family tree. Flukes are the two wide, flat triangular lobes on a whale's back end and are made of skin and connective tissue, with bones in the middle.  A new fossil study by Mark D. Uhen, a paleontologist from the Alabama Museum of Natural History pinpoints the advent of "modern" whale flukes to between 38 and 40 million years ago.  Details appear in the latest issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Report Finds SF Zoo Mostly Up To Standards

September 12, 2008   cbs5.com

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) ― A new city report, commissioned by San Francisco supervisors,  assess the San Francisco Zoo's compliance with national and international animal welfare and conservation standards.  The report was requested after legislation was introduced by Supervisor Chris Daly to transform the 100-acre facility bordering the Pacific Ocean into a rescue zoo, with its primary mission the housing of wildlife, domestic and exotic animals rescued from inhumane treatment.  The board postponed the vote until they had a chance to review this report from the Office of the Legislative Analyst. The  report concluded that most of the zoo's current practices "compare favorably" with standards of the USDA, which enforces the federal Animal Welfare Act, and with standards of the AZA.  "If you look at the entire body of the report, we're about 90 to 95 percent on center," said Bob Jenkins, the zoo's director of animal care and conservation. The report noted, however, that though the zoo met animal welfare standards on veterinary care, handling of animals, environmental enrichment programs, feeding, watering and sanitation, it needed to make faster progress on modernizing its older exhibits. "Some of the Zoo's animals may be suffering physically and mentally because their enclosures do not meet contemporary zoo standards," the report stated. Acknowledging the study had not been not conducted by zoo experts, the Office of the Legislative Analyst also recommended an independent consultant be hired "to properly address the major findings regarding animal welfare in this report."

Asian Houbara Bustard Headed for Extinction

September 12, 2008  www.sciencemag.org

URUMQI, CHINA-- Yang Weikang, an ecologist at the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography atf the Chinese Academy of Sciences is studying the Asian houbara bustard (Chlamydotis undulata macqueenii), in the Junggar Basin of western China.  But the bird is difficult to study because with  its superb vision it can spot threats from hundreds of meters away. The bird has become the favorite prey of falconers, and over the past few decades, hunting pressure across a wide swath of Asia has risen along with poaching and habitat loss. Bird experts are urgently negotiating with governments to establish protected areas in key countries where the bird breeds or winters. "We're working on this very seriously," says behavioral ecologist Olivier Combreau, director of the National Avian Research Center (NARC) in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). Creating new reserves where taking houbaras is banned and enacting stiffer penalties for poaching and overhunting are components of an action plan the signatories of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals are now reviewing.

Oregon Zoo Promotes Habitat Connectivity

September 13, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com 

OREGON -- Preventing habitat fragmentation in the Pacific Northwest and overcoming the barriers created by human development will be the focus of Pacific Northwest Wildlife Connections, a series of lectures and workshops at the Oregon Zoo Oct. 19-23.  Coordinators of hope to unite biologists, planners, designers and conservationists toward the common goal of connecting wildlife across the landscape. Suzanne Rosen, conservation workshop coordinator for the Oregon Zoo, said "Transportation infrastructure such as roads can create barriers that separate wildlife populations from suitable feeding or breeding areas. There  is a great need for wildlife corridors and crossing structures that allow animals to move safely between different parts of their ranges."  Pacific Northwest Wildlife Connections is a joint effort between the Oregon Zoo, Metro, Oregon Department of Transportation, Washington State Department of Transportation, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, Federal Highway Administration and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.  A free evening lecture on "The Changing Landscape of Transportation: Designing Roads to Conserve Wildlife Populations," will be presented by Dr. Anthony P. Clevenger, a research wildlife biologist for the Western Transportation Institute, and the following day, the public can attend an all-day symposium about habitat connectivity issues and projects.  The symposium lasts from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $35, including lunch.  Registration for these two workshops is by invitation only. To learn more, visit www.oregonzoo.org/Conservation/PNWC  

Baltimore Zoo Accredited

September 15, 2008  www.baltimoresun.com   By Melissa Harris

BALTIMORE, Maryland -- The Maryland Zoo gained national accreditation yesterday after a yearlong delay spent repairing their neglected infrastructure.  Zoo officials outlined more than $650,000 in recent infrastructure improvements, a 5 percent salary increase for some employees, and progress on a $1 million water drainage project and fire-alarm upgrades.  A $1 million water drainage project is also on the zoo's agenda, along with additional renovation projects to various on-site locations. Had the zoo lost its accreditation, it could have remained open, but would have had difficulty acquiring animals on loan from other zoos and would have had to withdraw from breeding programs, which bring baby animals to the park and drive media and public interest.

National Zoo’s Elephant Herd

September 15, 2008  www.washingtonpost.com  by Joe Elbert

National Zoo has three Asian elephants -- Shanthi, Ambika and Kandula. Tony Barthel is curator of elephants, Asia Trail and cheetahs. "They provide entertainment for each other. They're a tight-knit social unit, and they rely on each other. Yet there are times when they squabble and get on each other's nerves. The staff also has close relationships with the elephants, and to have a personal relationship with an animal like that is pretty amazing."  Ambika, 60,  is the oldest. She spent the early years of her life in an Indian forest, but at age 8, she was placed in a logging camp and came to the National Zoo in 1961 as a gift from the children of India. · Shanthi is the largest.  She was born in Sri Lanka in about 1975 and hand-reared at the Pinnewela Elephant Orphanage before the children of Sri Lanka gave her to the National Zoo the next year. In November 2001, she gave birth to a male calf, Kandula.  Kandula weighed 324 pounds at birth but is now close to 5,000 pounds. Kandula was named after the most famous elephant in Sri Lankan history. The zoo's Elephant House, constructed in the 1930s, no longer meets the needs of its occupants and a new home -- Elephant Trails, is planned.

Lucknow Zoo Needs Help Caring for Leopards

September 15, 2008  www.dailyindia.com   By Kamna Mathur

LUCKNOW -- The number of leopards at the Lucknow Zoo has risen from 3 to 10, and the zoo is unable to provide proper space for them  "We have been taking care of these leopards for last 28 years according to Mubarak Singh, a keeper.  Over the past couple of years, many leopards have been captured from villages where they used to prowl attacking livestock of the farmers and birds from the poultry coops.  Among the leopards at the Lucknow Zoo is a male rescued in 1991 from Lansdowne in Garhwal region and a female, rescued from Gonda six years later. The couple gave birth to many cubs. The latest birth of a cub was reported on August 27. Renu Singh, Director of Lucknow Zoo has launched the 'Adopt a Leopard' programme with the hope that animal lovers would come forth to meet the growing feeding and medical needs.

Detroit Zoo’s Scientific Art Show

September 15, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Animals A to Z: The Art of Scientific Illustrators will debut at the Detroit Zoo’s Exhibit Gallery on September 29th.  In 2002, University of Michigan professor Joe Trumpey illustrated over 5,000 animal species for the 17-volume Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia. Trumpey enlisted the help of 14 other illustrators, all former students and colleagues associated with U of M. For the next three years, the team – known as Michigan Science Art, LLC – painted everything from grubs to gorillas, flies to flamingos, and carp to crocodiles.  The exhibition includes 150 original paintings and sketches, as well as biographies and stories about the artists’ individual artistic processes. “The exhibition reveals how the art of scientific illustration, using the traditional artist’s tools of pencil, paper, paint and canvas, continues to thrive today in a technological era,” said Detroit Zoological Society Curator of Education Mark Packer.  The Animals A to Z exhibition runs through November 30, 2008, and is open daily during regular Zoo hours at no additional charge. All framed original artworks in the exhibition are available for sale; additional unframed prints are also available. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Detroit Zoological Society.

Elephant Calf Dies at Montgomery Zoo

September 15, 2008  www.wsfa.com   By John Shryock

MONTGOMERY, AL - - A male African elephant calf died Sunday at the Montgomery Zoo after it became unresponsive and veterinary and animal care staff were unable to revive it. The calf's mother, Mary, died on August 12, just two days after giving birth, after complications from  colic and intestinal rupture, Marcia Woodard, Zoo Deputy Director of the Montgomery Zoo, said she wasn't aware of a single case in North America where an elephant calf survived while being bottlefed, but that the zoo put great effort into the cause, taking care of the animal around-the-clock for 31 days. She says staff members are mourning the loss.  The calf's remains will be taken to a state lab in Auburn where a necropsy will be performed. Results should be available in 4-6 weeks.  The calf was the second born to the zoo in 2008. Woodard says the other calf, which is 9-months-old, is doing "fine".

Kansas City Zoo Breeds Wyoming toads

September 15, 2008   www.nebraska.tv

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Kansas City Zoo is now a breeding ground for 19 endangered Wyoming toads.  They're living in plastic cages in a sealed quarantine room, which is inside a locked building that is off limits to the public. The living conditions are nothing like their native home in Wyoming. Zoo animal curator Sean Putney said the Wyoming toad became extinct in the wild in 1994. Since then, more than 94,000 young toads and tadpoles have been released into four lakes in the Laramie Basin.

Zoo’s £750k For New Chimp Enclosure

September 15, 2008  www.expressandstar.com

Plans to build a new £750,000 chimpanzee enclosure at Dudley Zoo within the next year have been unveiled.  One of the zoo’s landmark concrete buildings, built by the Tecton group, previously used to house lions, polar bears and tigers, will be converted into the enclosure. The zoo still has 11 of the original 13 concrete tectons, built in the 1930s, designed for the zoo’s original buildings by Berthold Lubetkin, who also designed two of London Zoo’s attractions. “We are going to get people closer to the animals. We think it is going to work extremely well and it shows we are committed to our animals,” he added.  “The chimps are moving to a new area so land can be made available for new development.”

$7m For New Taronga Zoo Entrance

September 15, 2008  dubbo.yourguide.com.au  BY BELINDA GALLOWAY

DUBBO -- The $7 million redevelopment of the entrance at the Taronga Western Plains Zoo will include a new children’s playground and act as an information hub, showcasing the zoo’s role in Australian and international conservation.  By 2010 the local community will be able to gain free access to the new area, providing new opportunities for lakeside picnics, themed events, animal discovery and a relaxing meal and drink on the lakefront.  Visitors can buy their tickers in the new entry and arrival area, as opposed to through the window of their vehicle. Taronga Western Plains Zoo, general manager, Matt Fuller said “The redevelopment will revitalise a 30- year-old building, allow us to better manage parking and traffic and improve access to the lake foreshore.” The projects form the next wave of the zoo’s 12-year master plan which will see about $21.5m spent redeveloping a number of areas of the site over the coming four years.  Numerous exhibit upgrades, construction and redevelopment are also scheduled to be carried out within the next year for African wild dogs, White Rhinos and Siamang Apes as well as an additional off-display, multi-purpose breeding facility to be home to the zoo’s Tasmanian Devil insurance population.  Exhibit-holding facilities at giraffe, eland and African wild dog areas will also be redeveloped during the year.

WWF-UK  Arctic Ice Study

September 15, 2008  www.telegraph.co.uk

Dr Martin Sommerkorn, senior climate change advisor at WWF International's Arctic Programme, said: "We are expecting confirmation of 2008 being either the lowest or the second-lowest year in terms of summer ice coverage."This means two years in a row of record lows since we started recording Arctic sea ice coverage.  “The Arctic is a key factor in stabilizing the global climate so this is a global problem that demands an immediate and global response."  The area of ice that is at least five years old has dramatically fallen by more than half since 1985. The Northwest Passage, over the top of North America and the Northeast Passage, in Russia, are both free of ice for the first time. Dr Sommerkorn added: "Arctic ice is like a mirror, reflecting the sun's heat back into space. "As that ice goes, Arctic waters absorb more heat, adding to global warming. Warming of the Arctic will soon release more greenhouse gases from the Arctic that were previously locked in permanently frozen ground."  WWF is calling on the UK Government to help stabilise Arctic sea ice by slowing global warming through the Climate Change Bill, championing a stronger EU Climate and Energy Package and a more ambitious UN climate agreement to come into force from 2013.

Endangered Species Permit Applications

September 15, 2008  www.epa.gov   

The USFWS invites the public to comment on the following applications to conduct certain activities with endangered species.  Comments must be received on or before October 15, 2008.
Written data or comments should be submitted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Endangered Species Program Manager, Region 8, 2800 Cottage Way, Room W-2606, Sacramento, CA 95825 (telephone: 916-414-6464; fax: 916-414-6486). Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments. All comments received, including names and addresses, will become part of the official administrative record and may be made available to the public.  For further information contact: Daniel Marquez, Fish and Wildlife Biologist, (telephone: 760-431-9440; fax: 760-431-9624).

Permit No. TE-190302
Applicant: Mitch C. Siemens, Santa Maria, California    The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
in conjunction with surveys within Santa Barbara County, California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-814222
Applicant: California Department of Parks and Recreation, San Diego, California   The applicant requests an amendment to take (harass by survey, locate/monitor nests, and band chicks and fledglings) the California least tern (Sterna Antillarum browni) in conjunction with surveys and population monitoring studies within California State Park lands in San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, southwestern San Bernardino Counties, and in areas in Los Angeles County south of the Angeles National Forest, California, for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-190300
Applicant: Debra G. De La Torre, Lytle Creek, California    The permittee requests a permit to take (survey, trap, handle, and release) the Stephen's kangaroo rat (Dipodomys stephensi) in
conjunction with surveys and population monitoring activities throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-190303
Applicant: Daniel Shaw, Sacramento, California    The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense)
in conjunction with surveys within California State Park lands in Santa Barbara and Sonoma Counties, California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-095858
Applicant: Arianne B. Preite, Anaheim, California  The applicant requests an amendment to take (harass by survey, and locate/monitor nests) the southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax
traillii extimus) in conjunction with surveys and monitoring activities in Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-191704
Applicant: Dana E. Terry, Walnut Creek, California  The applicant requests a permit to take (survey, capture, handle, and release) the California tiger salamander (Ambystoma californiense),
and take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), the Riverside fairy shrimp (Streptocephalus wootoni), the San Diego fairy shrimp (Branchinecta sandiegonensis), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus packardi) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-170389
Applicant: Travis B. Cooper, San Juan Capistrano, California  The applicant requests an amendment to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-192714
Applicant: Southern California Coastal Water Research Group, Costa Mesa, California  The applicant requests a permit to take (capture and release) the tidewater goby (Eucyclogobius newberryi) and take (harass) the light-footed clapper rail (Rallus longirostris levipes), and California least tern (Sterna antillarum browni) in conjunction with coastal wetland research in Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties, California for the purpose of enhancing their survival.

Permit No. TE-192708
Applicant: Sarah M. Farmer, San Diego, California  The applicant requests a permit to take (survey by pursuit) the Quino checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas editha quino) in conjunction
with surveys throughout the range of the species in California for the purpose of enhancing its survival.

Permit No. TE-192702
Applicant: Jamie M. Kneitel, Sacramento, California   The applicant requests a permit to take (capture, collect, and kill) the Conservancy fairy shrimp (Branchinecta conservatio), the longhorn fairy shrimp (Branchinecta longiantenna), and the vernal pool tadpole shrimp (Lepidurus ackardi) in conjunction with surveys throughout the range of each species in California for the purpose of
enhancing their survival.

Flyway Conservation

September 15, 2008  www.birdlife.org

Over 150 representatives of government and non-governmental organizations as well as waterbird experts from 80 countries are meeting in Madagascar this week. They are discussing urgent conservation responses necessary to reverse the declines of many migratory waterbird species along the African-Eurasian Flyway.  The meeting highlights recent findings which show continuing declines of many waterbird species in Africa and Eurasia. Delegates are discussing how best to restore the status of these species to meet the target of ‘halting the decline of global biodiversity by 2010’.This is the Fourth Meeting of the Parties to the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) - an international treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds such as ducks, waders, storks, flamingos and many others which migrate along the African-Eurasian Flyways.

New Ant Species Discovered in Amazon

September 15, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

AUSTIN, Texas—A new species of blind, subterranean, predatory ant discovered in the Amazon rainforest by evolutionary biologist Christian Rabeling of the University of Texas at Austin is likely a descendant of the very first ants to evolve.  Named Martialis heureka, or "ant from Mars," its combination of characteristics have never been recorded before. It is adapted for dwelling in the soil, is 2-3 millimeters long, pale, has no eyes and large mandibles, which Rabeling and colleagues suspect it uses to capture prey.  The ant also belongs to its own new subfamily, one of 21 subfamilies in ants. This is the first time that a new subfamily of ants with living species has been discovered since 1923 (other new subfamilies have been discovered from fossil ants).  The paper reporting the discovery appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

New Book by Jack Hannah

September 15, 2008  www.ohio.com   By DOUG WHITEMAN

Jack Hanna recounts 26 years of TV appearances in his new autobiography, "Jungle Jack: My Wild Life." Hanna, 61, shot his first network TV appearance in 1983 on ABC’s “Good Morning America”  Animal rights activists have accused Hanna of exploiting animals and subjecting them to unnecessary stress by taking them on television.

Fastest Flights in Nature - Fungi

September 15, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Microscopic coprophilous or dung-loving fungi help make our planet habitable by degrading the billions of tons of feces produced by herbivores. But the fungi's survival depends upon the consumption of their spores by herbivores and few animals will graze on grass next to their own dung. Evolution has overcome this obstacle by producing an array of mechanisms of spore discharge whose elegance transforms a cow pie into a circus of microscopic catapults, trampolines, and squirt guns.  A new paper from Nik Money's lab at Miami University, Ohio, is published in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.  The researchers used high speed cameras running to capture these movements. Spores are launched at maximum speeds of 25 meters per second-impressive for a microscopic cell-corresponding to accelerations of 180,000 g. In terms of acceleration, these are the fastest flights in nature.  Fungal cells generate pressure by osmosis and, in the PLoS ONE study, the authors used a combination of spectroscopic methods to identify the chemical compounds responsible for driving water influx into the guns. These experiments showed that the discharge mechanisms in fungi are powered by the same levels of pressure that are characteristic of the cells that make up the feeding colonies of fungi. Therefore, the long flights of the spores result not from unusually high pressure, but from the way in which explosive pressure loss is linked to the propulsion of the spores.  This information is very important for future biophysical studies on spore and pollen movement, which have implications for the fields of plant disease control, terrestrial ecology, indoor air quality, atmospheric sciences, veterinary medicine, and biomimetics.  Some of the videos are so beautiful that student Hayley Kilroy (one of the authors) has set them to music and plans to post them on YouTube.  The research was  funded by NSF and NIH

Creating a Masai Village in Boise Zoo

September 15, 2008  www.idahostatesman.com

BOISE, Idaho -- Boise Zoo is building its first new exhibit since the $1.7 million Small Animal Kingdom opened in 2000.  Set designer, Michael Baltzell, of Boise State University, has been working to create the look and feel of a Masai village of East Africa and what will be known as Jiji La Miti National Park.  Zoo Boise director Steve Burns wanted to create a cultural interaction with people when they visit the exhibit, not just bring lions, zebras, giraffes and 14 other species of animals indigenous to the African plains. The village will consist of a house, classroom, and a banda hut where people would gather and discuss community issues, surrounded by a boma.  A boma is a wooden fence that separates the people and domesticated animals from the wild outside world. The concession stand and bathroom, ranger station and animal observation areas all will be outside the village. Baltzell, Pearse and Burns are working with Kakuta Hamisi, a Masai warrior, as an adviser on the $3.7 million project. He lives in Seattle and works with the Woodland Park Zoo. He heard about the Boise project and contacted Burns.  Because the Zoo Boise exhibit is a city capital project, it qualifies for the city's percent-for-art program, which designates 0.1 percent of budgets for brick and mortar projects for public art, said Karen Bubb, the city's public art manager and former interim executive director of the department.  For this $3.7 million project, she had about $38,000 to work with.  With an additional $6,000 from the city, the department has $44,000 to fund Baltzell's design and the labor to dress the set. Another $200,000 for the construction of the village came from the zoo's budget.

Economic Value of Insect Pollination

September 15, 2008  www.eurekalert.org  Tilo Arnhold

French and German scientists have found that the worldwide economic value of the pollination service provided by insect pollinators (mainly bees) was €153 billion in 2005 for the main crops that feed the world. This figure amounted to 9.5% of the total value of the world agricultural food production. The study also determined that pollinator disappearance would translate into a consumer surplus loss estimated between €190 to €310 billion. The results of this study on the economic valuation of the vulnerability of world agriculture confronted with pollinator decline are published in the journal "Ecological Economics”  According to the study, the decline of pollinators would have main effects on three main crop categories (following FAO terminology); fruits and vegetable were especially affected with a loss estimated at €50 billion each, followed by edible oilseed crops with €39 billion. The impact on stimulants (coffee, cocoa…), nuts and spices was less, at least in economic terms.

Bahamaian Flamingos are Disappearing with Ike

September 15, 2008  www.enn.com 

NASSAU  - The southern Bahamian island of Great Inagua used to have 60,000 flamingos  but they may be gone after Hurricane Ike. Most took off before Ike arrived and have not been seen since, according to officials in charge of the islands' national parks.  Left behind were 30 dead birds, thought to have been entangled in trees as they tried to flee, and a few hundred live ones that might have taken shelter in the mangroves.  Glenn Bannister, president of the Bahamas National Trust, said all of the island's birds -- including Bahama parrots and White Crown pigeons -- vanished before the storm hit.  The parrots returned after the storm, desperately seeking food among the storm-blasted trees and plant life. But for now, most of the flamingos have not come back and Bannister has no idea where they've gone.  "Some of the flamingos are now reappearing, but it could be one or two years before they get back to their regular nesting pattern," said Lynn Gape, also of the National Trust. She said wardens had only reported sightings of "several hundred" compared to the thousands there before.  With leaves and berries blown away by the wind, life is likely to be hard for Great Inagua's bird population until buds begin to appear, said Bannister.

Critical Habitat for California Red-Legged Frog

September 16, 2008   www.epa.gov   

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), proposes to revise designated critical habitat for the California red-legged frog (Rana aurora draytonii)  The previous final rule designated 450,288 acres (ac) (182,225 hectares (ha)) of critical habitat. We herein propose to revise those critical habitat boundaries to better reflect lands containing essential features for the California red-legged frog, and we now propose to designate approximately 1,804,865 ac (730,402 ha) of critical habitat in 28 California counties, an increase of approximately 1,354,577 ac) (548,177 ha). We will accept comments from all interested parties until November 17, 2008. You may submit comments by one of the following methods:  Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.  U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: FWS-R8-ES-2008-0089; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.  We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov

For information about the proposed designation in Los Angeles, Monterey, San Benito, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura Counties, contact Diane Noda, Field Supervisor, Ventura Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2394 Portola Road, Suite B, Ventura, CA 93003; telephone 805/644-1766; facsimile 805/644-3958.
For information about the proposed designation in Riverside County, contact Jim Bartel, Field Supervisor, Carlsbad Fish and Wildlife Office, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2730 6010 Hidden Valley Road, Carlsbad, CA 92009; telephone 760/431-9440; facsimile 760/431-9624.

AZA Honors Jack Hanna   

September 16, 2008  www.chicagotribune.com

MILWAUKEE - The Association of Zoos and Aquariums has awarded its highest honor to animal expert Jack Hanna.  Hanna received the R. Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence Tuesday at the association's annual conference in Milwaukee.  Association President Jim Maddy says the association is proud of the achievements of Hanna, who has dedicated his life to wildlife education.  Hanna is the director emeritus at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and has been on national talk shows for the last 25 years.

Storm Closes Brookfield Zoo

September 16, 2008  www.chicagotribune.com

CHICAGO, Illinois -- So much rain had fallen on the Brookfield zoo by early Sunday that water was rising in the deep moats surrounding the outdoor habitats of large carnivores such as lions and bears. A full moat would allow those animals to swim out, so they have been kept in their indoor habitats since Saturday. Stuart Strahl, CEO and president, decided shortly after the 9:30 a.m. (opening time Sunday) to close for the first time since the zoo began in 1934.  Nine visitors had to be turned away.  Brookfield reopened Monday but did not charge for admission or parking because several exhibits and buildings remained closed as water was pumped out. 

London Zoo Ant Conservation Project

September 16, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com

For the past 3 years, the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Surrey Wildlife Trust (SWT), the Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust (IOSWT) and Natural England (NE) have been breeding Red-barbed Ants  The project is funded by a £50,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  They Surrey Wildlife Trust, will become a stronghold for the ant colonies which have been reared in a specially-designed quarantine facility at ZSL London Zoo.  Until now, the ants have survived only on the Isles of Scilly and in Surrey.  The UK population of red-barbed ants has declined primarily due to a loss of habitat and the spread of the slave making ant, which steals their young and kills any workers that try to protect them.  Paul Pearce-Kelly, ZSL's Senior Curator of Invertebrates, said: "It is wonderful to see that this project is now reaching the key reintroduction stage. We plan to annually rear new colonies of ants here at ZSL London Zoo for reintroduction into their natural Surrey rangeland.”  “It is imperative that we save this amazing species. ZSL along with the other project members are working together with ant experts in the hope that the red-barbed ants will live to see another day on mainland Britain."  Red-barbed ants are now classed as a national Biodiversity Action Plan priority, and are a key component of Surrey's heathland ecosystem. They  feed on honey dew (collected from aphids) and small invertebrates (such as caterpillars)m and are a food source for other native species, woodpeckers and sand lizards.

Whale Songs Recorded in New York City Waters

September 16, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

ITHACA, N.Y. — For the first time in waters surrounding New York City, the mating calls of endangered fin, humpback and North Atlantic right whales have been recorded, according to experts from the Bioacoustics Research Program at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).  "With data generated by acoustic monitoring, we can better understand New York's role in the life history of these endangered whales and make more informed conservation decisions," says James Gilmore, chief of the DEC's Bureau of Marine Resources. The recorders were placed about 13 miles from the New York Harbor entrance and off the shores of Fire Island. Information about the seasonal presence of whales will help New York state policymakers develop management plans to protect them. Knowing the whales' travel paths will help ship traffic managers avoid whale collisions in New York waters. Further, the study will characterize New York waters' acoustic environment and examine whether underwater noises, including shipping, affect the whales.  Acoustic monitoring was initiated in spring 2008 – between March and June – in order to record the right whales' northward migration from their calving ground off the Florida eastern coast to their feeding grounds off Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Acoustic monitoring has begun for the whales' southern migration in the fall, back to the calving areas. The study will continue through February 2009 and is expected to reveal which species occur in New York waters throughout the winter months.

Global Disease: Africn Swine Fever and H5N1

September 16, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

U.K. scientists are involved in two international projects aimed to protect Northern Ireland's agri-food industry from bird flu and African swine fever. Working with colleagues from other EU-member states and the Far East in the FLUTEST project they are providing improved diagnosis and early warning systems for bird flu.  Local researchers in the AFRISK project are working with 16 partner institutes around the world including Africa and the Far East to provide new ways of detecting African Swine Fever (ASF) and reduce the risk of the disease being imported into EU member states.  Gordon Allan, a Principal Scientific Officer in the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), is leading researchers from both institutions in the European Commission-funded projects, which have each been awarded £130,000.  Professor Allan said   "These multinational collaborations enable locally-based scientists to input expertise but they also gain considerable information from partners around the world on how to successfully fight the increasing threat to our local industry. It is the only effective way to combat their spread."

Why Some Primates Don’t Get AIDS

September 16, 2008  www.eurekalert.org 

Key differences in immune system signaling and the production of specific immune regulatory molecules may explain why some primates are able to live with an immunodeficiency virus infection without progressing to AIDS-like illness, unlike other primate species, including rhesus macaques and humans, that succumb to disease.  Following the identification of HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) as the cause of AIDS 25 years ago, an extensive search was undertaken to identify the source of the virus. These studies led to the discovery that chimpanzees and sooty mangabeys are infected in the wild with simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV), whose transmission to humans and macaques leads to AIDS, but they remain healthy. Understanding how the natural hosts evolved to resist the development of immunodeficiency disease is a key unsolved mystery in our understanding of AIDS. Furthermore, definition of the mechanisms by which they resist disease could help explain the mechanisms underlying AIDS progression in humans.  A team of scientists from Yerkes National Primate Research Center and the Emory Vaccine Center has discovered that the immune systems of sooty mangabeys are activated to a significantly lower extent during SIV infection than are the immune systems of rhesus macaques, and that this difference may explain why SIV and HIV infection leads to AIDS in some primate species but not others.

Denver Zoo Gets Outreach Grant

September 16, 2008  www.marketwatch.com

DENVER  -- The Qwest Foundation today announced a $10,000 grant to the Denver Zoological Foundation to teach pre-K through 12th-grade students about conservation education. The conservation outreach programs take the zoo to schools and community centers, as well as after-school program sites throughout the Denver metro area.  Denver Zoo Outreach Manager Matt Herbert said, "These dollars will help us continue to bring educational programs to classrooms and community centers throughout the state and help teach people how they can support creatures all over the world with their actions here." The primary goal of the Denver Zoo's education outreach programming is to inspire a sense of wonder for nature and an appreciation for the interconnectedness of humans, wildlife and habitat. An important objective is for participants to acquire skills and self-concepts to become environmental stewards of a sustainable world. The Qwest Foundation's core principle is that investing in people and communities provides lasting value for the future. The Qwest Foundation awards grants to community-based programs that generate high-impact and measurable results, focusing on pre-K through grade 12 education.  The marks that comprise the Qwest logo are registered trademarks of Qwest Communications International Inc. in the U.S. and certain other countries.

Fallow Deer Dominance Linked to Larynx Size

September 16, 2008   communications.nottingham.ac.uk

Research published this month in PLoS One, has shown that female fallow deer are attracted to a deep call. Data taken from a deer herd in Phoenix Park, Dublin indicate that the males with high dominance status also have the deepest ‘groans’ (the name of the fallow deer call). These males are also more successful when it comes to getting matings.  Males can groan up to 60 times a minute during the ‘rut’ — the deer mating season, which falls in October. This can increase up to 90 times a minute immediately after mating.  The deer’s groan is directly related to body size. Deer share a vocal trait with humans — the descended larynx — which increases the length of their vocal tract and allows the groan to deepen. As the groan travels from the animal’s vocal chords, through its throat and out of its mouth, it is uniquely modulated to create formant frequencies. It is these frequencies that indicate body size.  In fact, the descended (and also mobile in the case of deer) larynx makes the animal sound bigger than he actually is.  It was thought that the descent of the larynx was a pre-cursor to the evolution of human speech, by allowing greater freedom of movement of the tongue. For example, chimps and other primates have a larynx that is situated quite high up in the neck. However, recent research suggests that the descent of the larynx is more likely linked to size exaggeration, as is the case with deer.

New African Wild Dog Study

September 16, 2008  www.physorg.com

The endangered African wild dog has adopted an extreme hunting strategy in which packs of, 6-10 individuals run up to 30km a day. These dogs have had to adapt their bodies to this extremely energetic lifestyle – making them lithe and athletic with much smaller stomachs than larger competitors such as lions and hyenas.  This strategy has many advantages - running enables them to catch a regular food supply which can feed many small stomachs - but it’s a strategy that also makes the species vulnerable to changing conditions. Researcher Gregory Rasmussen of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), reports in this month’s American Naturalist, on activity and prey data from 22 packs of African wild dogs.  His analysis found that a ‘vicious circle’ develops where less food energy from hunts leads to less reproduction which in turn leads to smaller packs which then have less success in catching prey,’ he said.   ‘The poverty trap really starts to bite as pack sizes fall below five and their low hunt success rate means that the dogs have to undertake energy-expensive extra hunts, leaving even less energy for reproduction.’  The new findings will help conservationists understand the ‘energetic tightrope’ walked by many species and how human activity can push populations over the edge.

Grizzly Bear Thriving in Montana

September 16, 2008  www.physorg.com  By DINA CAPPIELLO

The first-ever scientific census of the Grizzly bear in Montana shattered earlier estimates claiming there were at least 250-350 bears roaming the area. (More recent data placed the minimum population at around 563 bears.) Katherine Kendall, the lead researcher with the US Geological Survey announced Tuesday that there are approximately 765 bears in northwestern Montana. That's the largest population of grizzly bears documented there in more than 30 years, and a sign that the species could be at long last rebounding. The finding, from a $4.8 million, five-year study of grizzly bear DNA was criticized by Republican presidential candidate John McCain as pork barrel spending, but it was actually backed by republicans and could help ease restrictions on oil and gas drilling, logging and other development. Since 1975, the bear has been threatened in the lower 48 states, a status that bars hunting and restricts any kind of development that could diminish the bear's population.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is in charge of regulating endangered species, is currently reviewing the bears' status in Montana as part of a five-year review required by the Endangered Species Act. The study's results will help biologists determine whether the bear still needs federal protection, a conclusion due out early next year.

A New Look at the Bush Meat Problem

September 16, 2008  news.nationalgeographic.com  James Owen

Bush meat makes up 30 to 80 percent of the overall protein intake of rural communities in Central Africa.  Even so, various conservation groups have called for an all-out ban on bush meat. Noelle Kumpel, bush meat and forest-conservation program manager for the Zoological Society of London, said  “There's more people and fewer alternative sources of protein available. Africa's growing population, coupled with reduced livestock availability and overexploitation of marine and freshwater fish stocks, means that "per capita, the bush meat protein supply is increasing."  A new report, led by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, assessed the latest research on bush meat and estimated the region's current wild-meat harvest at more than a million tons annually—the equivalent of almost four million cattle.  Instead of banning the practice, the report recommends that hunting for non-threatened species be legalized and regulated to protect the food supply and livelihoods of forest people.  "If local people are guaranteed the benefits of sustainable land use and hunting practices, they will be willing to invest in sound management and negotiate selective hunting regimes," Frances Seymour, director general of CIFOR, said in a statement.  "Sustainable management of bush meat resources requires bringing the sector out into the open, removing the stigma of illegality, and including wild-meat consumption in national statistics and planning." What's more, a total crackdown on the trade could prove disastrous for local communities who have few alternative sources of protein and income, the study authors warn.

Montana Gray Wolves May Get Reprieve

September 16, 2008  www.nytimes.com

A federal wildlife official in Billings said the government planned to retreat for now from its attempt to take gray wolves in the Northern Rockies off the endangered species list. The official, Ed Bangs of the Fish and Wildlife Service, said the government in the next week planned to withdraw a rule issued this spring. The rule was based on the assertion that the region’s approximately 1,500 wolves were recovered fully, opening the way for public hunting of wolves to begin this fall in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. But in July,  Judge Donald Molloy of Federal District Court blocked the hunts pending resolution of a lawsuit by environmentalists.

USGS Wildlife Mortality Events Updated

September 16, 2008   www.nwhc.usgs.gov

USGS and a network of partners across the country work on documenting wildlife mortality events in order to provide timely and accurate information on locations, species and causes of death. This information was updated on Sep 15, 2008 on the USGS National Wildlife Health Center web page, New and Ongoing Wildlife Mortality Events Nationwide. Quarterly Mortality Reports are also available from this page. These reports go back to 1995.

Smithsonian Will Put 137-Million Object Collection Online

September 16, 2008  www.cnn.com

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Smithsonian Institution plans to digitize its collections to make science, history and cultural artifacts accessible online and dramatically expand its outreach to schools.  G. Wayne Clough, he Smithsonian's new chief wants to bring in Web gurus to find creative ways to present artifacts online.  "I worry about museums becoming less relevant to society," he said.  Clough, 66, was president of the Georgia Institute of Technology for 14 years, and is working to bring in video gaming experts and Web gurus to collaborate with curators on creative ways to present artifacts online and make them appealing to kids. Smithsonian officials do not know how long it will take or how much it will cost to digitize the full 137 million-object collection and will do it as money becomes available. A team will prioritize which artifacts are digitized first. It's also a new way for the Smithsonian to generate cash from private educational foundations or the U.S. Department of Education at a time when funding from Congress is flat and could decline, Clough said.

Captive Breeding Proposed for Palmyra's Northern Bald Ibis

September 17, 2008  www.birdlife.org

A workshop on conservation of the Critically Endangered Northern Bald Ibis Geronticus eremita, has concluded that the Palmyra birds should be supplemented with juveniles taken from the expanding semi-wild population at Birecik, Turkey. The meeting was held in Palmyra, Syria, near the site where a relict population of the bird was discovered in 2002.  The workshop was organised by the Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife and Syrian Ministry for Agriculture and Agrarian Reform, the General Commission for the Management and Development of al-Badia, with participation and funding from BirdLife International's Middle East Secretariat, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB, BirdLife in the UK), and Germany's Hanns Seidel Foundation.  The proposed captive Northern Bald Ibis aviary will be established within the Talila Wildlife Reserve, part of the al-Badia desertic steppe rangelands east of Palmyra, managed by the Syrian government and funded by UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and others to restore to ecological health. Workshop participants included community representatives, local hunters, Bald Ibis Protected Area staff, and senior officials of the General Commission for the Management and Development of al-Badia.

Global Diversity Crop Trust

September 17, 2008  www.physorg.com

The Global Crop Diversity Trust is undertaking a major effort to search crop collections—from Azerbaijan to Nigeria—for the traits that could arm agriculture against the impact of future changes. Traits, such as drought resistance in wheat, or salinity tolerance in potato, will become essential as crops around the world have to adapt to new climate conditions. Crop diversity is the raw material needed for improving and adapting food crops to harsher climate conditions and constantly evolving pests and diseases. However, it is disappearing from many of the places where it has been placed for safekeeping—the world's genebanks. Compounding the fact that it is not well conserved is the fact that it is not well understood. A lack of readily available and accurate data on key traits can severely hinder plant breeders' efforts to identify material they can use to breed new varieties best suited for the climates most countries will experience in the coming decades. The support provided by the Global Crop Diversity Trust will not only rescue collections which are at risk, but enable breeders and others to screen collections for important characteristics.

'xCAT' helps Ohio Gorilla

September 17, 2008  www.marketwatch.com

CINCINNATI, Ohio -- When the gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo needed a CAT scan of her nasal passages, they called Xoran Technologies in Michigan. for xCAT(R), a compact medical CAT scanner that was designed for scanning specific areas of a patient's head. A human patient's head. The company is a pioneer in shrinking traditionally massive CT technology into small units. Xoran created xCAT to be a mobile scanner that can roll right up to a patient in the Operating Room, giving surgeons a real time image of the patient's condition without ever moving the patient. Ron Kagan, Executive Director of Michigan's Detroit Zoo, was first to suggest application of this unique technology to animals, and to express an interest in the xCAT as a means of diagnosing an animals' condition in a humane and non-threatening way, potentially preventing unnecessary surgery. Xoran's scanners are not designed for animals, although discussions to help animals at the Detroit Zoo and later at the San Diego Zoo go back about a year.

SF Zoo Won’t Become a Rescue Center

September 17, 2008  www.sfgate.com 

The San Francisco Zoo will remain as is.  Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors rejected a proposal that would have turned the institution into a rescue facility. Even a last-ditch effort by Supervisor Chris Daly to water down his legislation, failed to convince most supervisors to get behind the measure, which failed 7-4.  The proposal was amended Tuesday to erase the requirement that nearly all new zoo animals come from rescue situations, such as exotic animals confiscated from illegal traders. Yet the legislation still included aspects that some supervisors found troubling or unnecessary, including the creation of an oversight committee and a clause barring the zoo from adding new animals "unless the needs of all animals currently at the zoo have been met."  Daly, who worked with animal welfare advocates on the measure, said he was not surprised by the outcome, and indicated he may revisit the issue in the future.  Zoo officials, who campaigned against the measure, argued that it would have killed their donor base and created a sanctuary full of sick or injured animals.  "Our fundamental mission was validated," said acting Director Tanya Peterson. Zoo officials are embarking on a 3-6-month push to make smaller, less expensive improvements, as well as a capital campaign to raise money to replace aging exhibits.

Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, who voted against the proposal, said it could preclude the zoo from accepting any new animals. And he noted that the mayor and Supervisor Bevan Dufty last week recommended adding two "animal welfare" seats to the Joint Zoo Commission, an oversight body that advises the city on zoo issues.  "If this legislation had been in place a year ago, do we honestly think that what happened would not have happened?" Elsbernd asked, referring to last year's Christmas Day incident in which a tiger escaped from its enclosure and attacked three visitors, killing one. The Dec. 25 attack and subsequent attention forced officials to acknowledge that many of the animal enclosures are outdated and need to be replaced. The zoo is owned by the city, which has put daily operations in control of the nonprofit San Francisco Zoological Society. Animal welfare advocates, however, were disappointed. "Ultimately this was a vote against the animals and against accountability," said Deniz Bolbol of In Defense of Animals. "The board's vote ensured that it will be business as usual."

Twin Pandas Born in Japan

September 17, 2008  www.ibnlive.com

SHIRAHAMA, Japan -- A giant panda born and brought up in Japan has given birth to twin cubs. The 8-year-old giant panda Rauhin gave birth to the cubs on camera at Adventure World Zoo in Shirahama city in Western Japan.  This is the first case in Japan that a Japanese-born panda has successfully given birth through natural breeding.  Since her delivery, Rauhin has been feeding breast milk to her newly-born daughter and son every two hours. Last month a giant panda baby died three days after being born at a zoo in Kobe, Japan.

Australian Frog Reproduction Study

September 17, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Dr Phillip Byrne, from Monash University's School of Biological Sciences, has researched the common Australian frog species Bibron's toadlet (Pseudophryne bibronii) for six years and in his latest field trip, discovered a new behavior undetected in a frog species until now.  "Our study revealed that females made the active decision to distribute their eggs between the nests of up to eight different males," Dr Byrne said. They  kept track of almost 100 frogs for over four months. Using DNA markers Dr Byrne found females that distributed their available eggs between the nests of more males, as opposed to leaving them in one nest, had elevated offspring survival, presumably by insuring against nest failure. "Traditionally it was thought that males, but not females, should benefit from promiscuous behavior because males generally invest less in reproduction. This level of promiscuity is a new record among vertebrates.  "Females in many animal species choose to mate with multiple partners as a safeguard against choosing a genetically inferior sire, but insurance against a father who provides a lousy home is a novel and potentially widespread explanation for the evolution of female promiscuity," Dr Byrne said.  The study appears in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London.

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Permits

September 17, 2008   www.epa.gov   

The USFWS announces the receipt of applications to conduct certain activities pertaining to enhancement of survival of endangered species. Written comments on this request for a permit must be received by October 17, 2008. Submit data or comments to the Assistant Regional Director-Ecological Services, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver Federal Center, Denver, Colorado 80225-0486; facsimile 303-236-0027. Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review  by any party who submits a request for a copy of such documents within 30 days of the date of publication of this notice to Kris Olsen, by mail or by telephone at 303-236-4256.

    Applicant--Bureau of Land Management, Utah Field Office, Salt Lake City, Utah, TE-165829. The applicant requests a permit amendment to add survey for Lepidium barnebyanum (Barneby ridge-cress), Schoenocrambe argillacea (Barneby reed-mustard), Astragalus holmgreniorum (Holmgren milk-vetch), Lesquerella tumulosa (Kodachrome bladderpod), Pediocactus despainii (San Rafael cactus), Astragalus ampullarioides (Shivwitz milk-vetch), Schoenocrambe suffrutescens (Shrubby reed-mustard), Sclerocactus wrightiae (Wright cactus) on National Park Service land in Utah in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

    Applicant--Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver, Colorado, TE-106182. The applicant requests a permit amendment to add survey for Eriogonum pelinophilum (Clay-loving wild-buckwheat), Pediocactus knowltonii (Knowlton cactus), Astragalus humillimus (Mancos milk-vetch), Phacelia formosula (North Park phacelia), Astragalus osterhoutii (Osterhout milk-vetch), Penstemon penlandii (Penland beardtongue) in conjunction with recovery activities throughout the species' range for the purpose of enhancing its survival and recovery.

Proposed Endangered Status for Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander
, Proposed Designation of Critical Habitat for Frosted Flatwoods Salamander and Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander
September 18, 2008   www.epa.gov
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service), proposes to split the currently threatened flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) into two distinct species: frosted flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma cingulatum) and reticulated flatwoods salamander (Ambystoma bishopi) due to a change in taxonomy. The frosted flatwoods salamander will maintain the status of threatened, and contained in this document is the threats analysis under section 4(a)(1) of the Act which explains this determination. We are accepting public comments on the associated draft economic analysis, the listing status of both species, and the supplemental information we are providing in this document before October 14, 2008. Submit via:   Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. U.S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: RIN 1018-AU85; Division of Policy and Directives Management; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; 4401 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 222; Arlington, VA 22203.     We will not accept e-mail or faxes. We will post all comments on http://www.regulations.gov For further information contact: Ray Aycock, Field Supervisor, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Mississippi Field Office, 6578 Dogwood View Parkway, Jackson, MS 39213; telephone: 601-321-1122; facsimile: 601-965-4340. If you use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD), call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 800-877-8339.

Hairy-nosed Otters Found in Vietnam

September 18, 2008  www.physorg.com 

VIETNAM -- Researchers have found two hairy-nosed otters, which have been listed as the world's rarest species, in U Minh Ha National Park in March, according to a statement from the Carnivore and Pangolin Conservation Program.  Hairy-nosed otters were thought to be extinct in the 1990s. However, they have since been rediscovered in Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia.  Vietnam is home to three other species of otter, including the smooth-coated otter, eurasian otter and oriental small-clawed otter.

Weeds Threaten Indian Rhinoceros

September 18, 2008  www.enn.com  By Reuters

KATHMANDU – At a meeting of the Asian Rhino Specialist Group in Nepal, researchers said that South Asia’s Great One-horned Rhinoceros’ feeding grounds were being invaded by "exotic species" of weeds and wild plants and the rhino could soon run out of natural fodder. Bibhab Kumar Talukdar, co-chairman of the group said from the Chitwan National Park, home to 408 rhinos, said "We have to concentrate on how best to control the weeds and for this we have to intensify research."  The endangered animal, whose numbers have been rising in Nepal and India, is found mostly in the northeastern Indian state of Assam, and in southwestern Nepal. "The weeds and wild plants are spreading fast in the habitat and we are looking into the reasons now," said Shyam Bajimaya, an expert with Nepal's national parks.  Nepal's Chitwan National Park, located 81 km (51 miles) southwest of Kathmandu, is the second-biggest home for the rhinos after the Kaziranga National Park in the Indian state of Assam, which has 1,855 animals. The number of rhinos in the Indian park has risen from about 1,200 in 1999, helped by a reduction in poaching, Talukdar said. The rhino population in Chitwan was also on the rise.

Scientists Name 100 New Shark and Ray Species

September 18, 2008  www.enn.com  By Reuters

SYDNEY, Australia - Scientists using DNA have catalogued and described 100 new species of sharks and rays in Australian waters, which they said on Thursday would help conservation of the marine animals and aid in climate change monitoring.  More than 90 of the newly named species were identified by scientists in a 1994 book "Sharks and Rays of Australia" but remained scientifically undescribed.  One rare species of carpet shark catalogued was found in the belly of another shark.  The new names and descriptions will now feature in a revised 2009 edition of the book by Australia's Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO)

New Iguana Species Discovered in Fiji

September 18, 2008  online.wr.usgs.gov

Newly discovered, Brachylophus bulabula, joins two other living Pacific iguana species, one of which is critically endangered.  Pacific iguanas generally are endangered. Two species were eaten to extinction after people arrived nearly 3,000 years ago. The remaining Brachylophus iguana species face threats from loss and alteration of their habitat, as well as from feral cats, mongooses and goats eat iguanas or their food source.  Robert Fisher, a research zoologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in San Diego, is a coauthor of a study on the new iguana with scientists from the Australian National University and Macquarie University in Australia. They studied iguanas on 13 islands and found that all but one island had at least one distinct iguana genetic line that was not seen elsewhere.  The new discovery is detailed a recent special edition of the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B that pays tribute to Charles Darwin's contribution to the Pacific region.

Kangaroo Rat Habitat Study

September 18, 2008  www.usatoday.com    By TRACIE CONE

FRESNO, Calif. -  Scientists plan to count Giant Kangaroo Rats from space.  They will examine images taken from the same satellite used by Israeli defense forces to find the circular patches of earth denuded by the rats as they gather food around their burrows. By comparing the photos to 30 years of satellite images being released this month by the U.S.G.S., researchers hope to better understand how the population has fluctuated in response to climate change and as the arrival of state and federal canal water turned the arid San Joaquin Valley into a patchwork of intensely cultivated farms and forced Giant Kangaroo Rats to concentrate on higher ground. The information will help scientists determine when cattle might be used to reduce nonnative grasses, allowing the rats to more easily find food.  This study using satellite technology is taking place on the vast Carrizo Plain, a 390-square-mile desert grassland 150 miles southwest of here that is home to the most concentrated remaining populations of kangaroo rats. The technology replaces trapping and tedious airplane fly-overs as a means of taking census.  "It allows us to more quickly recognize whether populations are declining where we want them to exist," said Scott Butterfield, a biologist with of The Nature Conservancy. "If they go below a threshold, that is when we would consider intervening."

More Funding Needed for Hawaiian Birds

September 18, 2008  www.honoluluadvertiser.com

Nearly one-third of all endangered bird species in the U.S. are found exclusively in Hawai'I, but a new study has found federal and state funding to conserve and recover them is much lower than for Mainland birds.  The study was done by David L. Leonard Jr. of the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife. He says on average, Mainland species received 15 times more funding than endangered Hawaiian birds.  Leonard says of the total spent toward recovery of listed bird species between 1996 and 2004, the 31 birds unique to Hawai'i received only 4.1 percent of the recovery funds available from all sources.

Should we Legalize Hunting of Endangered Species 

September 18, 2008  environment.newscientist.com  Andy Coghlan

Around 1000 terrestrial species are hunted for food, according to the report from the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), a non-profit research institution. In central Africa, 1 million tonnes of bushmeat are harvested each year, supplying 80 per cent of the protein and fat that people in the region consume. Yet the haul is seldom sustainable.  In Cameroon, for example, species including elephants, gorillas and other primates have become locally extinct in the past 50 years.

Santa Barbara Zoo Launches Zoo Ranger Program

September 18, 2008  www.santaynezvalleyjournal.com

SANTA BARBARA, California -- The Zoo Ranger tour involves a palm-sized, interactive video device equipped with a Global Positioning System that is triggered by a visitor’s location within the zoo.  As users approach various areas throughout the park, the Zoo Ranger will provide more information about the exhibits through multimedia video, music, text, animation, and photographs.  After seeing the San Francisco Zoo’s success with the Zoo Ranger, the Santa Barbara Zoo was eager to add the device. However, there will be one added feature — the “Ranger Quest” program.  “Ranger Quest [is] an interactive scavenger-hunt-style game whereby the users collect ‘points’ by visiting different animal exhibits and sites around the zoo and correctly answering trivia questions,” said public relations representative Cindy Tincher.  “This promises to make the new tour option quite popular with the zoo’s younger visitors,” she said.  Now, visitors to the zoo can enjoy the same exhibits as always, with the added educational benefits of the Zoo Ranger. The convenience and versatility of the device are expected to provide each visitor with insightful information in a fun format.  Visitors won’t be the only ones to benefit from the introduction of the Zoo Ranger: the Santa Barbara Zoo also will be able to gain important information from the device, which can track which areas of the park are the most popular.

USDA Fines Cleveland Zoo

September 18, 2008  www.peta.org

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has cited Cleveland Metroparks Zoo for two violations of the Animal Welfare Act resulting from the zoo's failure to provide safe enclosures for kangaroos. The USDA's action follows PETA's complaints over two separate 2007 incidents in which kangaroos were hit by a train that runs through the animals' exhibit. PETA filed the first complaint on June 6, 2007, after learning from a zoo visitor that a kangaroo had been struck by the train approximately three weeks earlier, resulting in the need to amputate part of the kangaroo's tail. The zoo was cited for the incident on a USDA inspection report dated June 14, 2007. PETA filed a second complaint on July 26, 2007, after a 1-year-old kangaroo was struck by the train two days earlier and had to be euthanized because of the extent of her injuries. The zoo was cited for this incident on July 31, 2007. At least five animals have been struck by the train since the exhibit opened in 2000.

Thermal Art Show Comes to Paignton Zoo

September 18, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com  By Philip Knowling

PAIGNTON, UK - Paignton Zoo Environmental Park is launching a unique art exhibition that brings together wildlife conservation and military hardware.  Nature in a Different Light is thought to be the first art exhibition of its kind. The display matches up conventional photographs of Zoo animals with thermal images of the same species.  It is the result of a unique collaboration between Paignton Zoo and Dr Chris Lavers, Head of Sensors and Telecommunications, Plymouth University at Britannia Royal Naval College.   Dr. Lavers first worked with Paignton Zoo in 2002, initially approaching Dr Amy Plowman, the Head of Science. They looked into the possibilities of adapting military thermal and image intensifier (night sight) technology for wildlife applications.  The thermal images – which can resemble abstract Impressionist paintings - were taken using the latest generation of thermal cameras which are even more advanced than those previously used for identifying and observing vessels at sea.  The conventional photographs have been taken by Ray Wiltshire,  a member of Paignton Zoo and a dedicated amateur photographer.

Toronto Zoo Board Dissolves its Foundation

September 18, 2008  www.thestar.com   By Donovan Vincent  & John Spears   

The fundraising arm of the Toronto zoo is disbanding after a rancorous dispute with the zoo's board, leaving $10 million in assets in limbo. The foundation's board, from which several members have resigned over unhappiness with the Toronto Zoo's governance, voted to dissolve the foundation yesterday. The move came in response to a letter from zoo CEO Calvin White saying the board wanted to end its fundraising contract with the arm's-length foundation. Amid the turmoil, it's uncertain who will end up running a planned 10-year, $250 million fundraising drive aimed at a massive revitalization, including a new education centre and a $32.8 million conservation fund to finance projects around the world. The zoo has been mired in a tussle over control for some time, with some foundation members upset that White served for a time as both CEO and head of the foundation. In December, White went on a "personal leave," negotiated a severance deal, but then failed to get the board's approval for it and returned to his post in July. The board then voted to give White the power to decide whether to sever ties with the foundation amid concerns it wasn't up to raising $250 million.

Raymond Cho, who chairs the zoo board, told reporters the zoo wants to set up an in-house committee to replace the foundation. He said $250 million is a modest fundraising goal, repeating the contention that the foundation doesn't have the heft to draw in big donors. "I'm not too sure they're capable (of raising $250 million) based on the record they've raised," he said. The zoo has a fundraising advisory committee. According to White, when a new group is formed, it will consist of experienced fundraisers, people of "affluence and influence." White said the zoo will also need to tap into funds from the city, province and Ottawa, and will need to show those governments it has its act together. Critics have suggested that by getting rid of the foundation, the zoo risks scaring away donors afraid that their money will end up in city coffers and used for other purposes. White said the foundation's assets could go into a special fund set up by the city's treasurer, with strict rules about how it's to be used.

Wolong Plans Fall Expeditions to Survey Pandas

September 18, 2008  www.ajc.com By CRAIG SIMONS

CHENGDU, China —Nearly 70,000 people died in the earthquake that struck Sichuan province in May. The quake also disrupted research and breeding programs for the critically endangered panda and affected more than 80 percent its wild habitat. Data is only beginning to filter in from field stations about the impact on hundreds of pandas living in the most heavily damaged areas. Hou Rong of the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. “It’s critical that we get more information.” Hou and other experts worry that some wild giant pandas were likely hurt or killed in the earthquake and hundreds of violent aftershocks. He estimates that almost one-third of plant life in the worst-hit areas was destroyed, making it harder for pandas — which live almost entirely on bamboo — to find food.  The food shortage could be particularly hard on pregnant mothers. The earthquake struck toward the end of the breeding season and stress caused by the shaking and its aftermath “might have a negative affect on the number of births” in the wild, Hou said. Researchers are planning to survey several wild panda habitats this fall.

September 2008 Accreditation and Certification Results

September 18, 2008   aza.org

AZA 2008 Accreditation Commission hearings held in September, 2008 in Milwaukee announced that the following zoos were accredited for another term:  Beardsley Zoo, Bridgeport, CT; Blank Park Zoo, Des Moines, IA; Bronx Zoo, Bronx, NY; Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC; Butterfly House, St. Louis, MO; Buttonwood Park Zoo, New Bedford, MA; Calgary Zoo, Alberta, Canada; Chattanooga Zoo, Chattanooga, TN; Chehaw Wild Animal Park, Albany, GA; Clyde Peeling’s Reptiland, Allenwood, PA; Ft. Wayne Children’s Zoo, Ft. Wayne, IN; Henry Vilas Zoo, Madison, WI; International Crane Foundation, Baraboo, WI; Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, MD; Milwaukee County Zoological Gardens, WI; Oglebay’s Good Zoo, Wheeling, WV; Oklahoma City Zoo, OK; Peoria Zoo, Peoria, IL; Queens Zoo, Flushing, NY; Riverside Zoo, Scottsbluff, NE; Rosamond Gifford Zoo, Syracuse, NY; Seneca Park Zoo, Rochester, NY; Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.; Virginia Zoo, Norfolk, VA.

Bristol Zoo’s Gorilla Family Expands

September 19, 2008  news.bbc.co.uk

A four-year-old hand-reared gorilla named Kera will join the Bristol zoo's family of western lowland gorillas including three-year-old Namoki and Komale who is nearly two.  Keepers will monitor her interaction with the rest of the group and it is hoped the family will teach her how to be "fully socialized" gorilla. She was moved from the Wilhelma Zoo in Stuttgart, Germany, and is described by her keeper there as "good natured, sociable and very greedy". Her new "parents" include Jock, an adult male, who weighs 220kg (485 llbs) and two adult females, Salome and Romina.It is hoped that Namoki and the youngest Komale will be suitable playmates. John Partridge, of Bristol zoo, said: "Female gorillas are quite rare in the captive breeding programme, so when we were told that a young gorilla from the nursery needed a new home, we applied to have her and were selected, which is fantastic.  "We want to expand our gorilla breeding programme here at Bristol zoo and we have the veterinary and animal husbandry expertise to facilitate this.  "Although Kera is currently too young to breed, she will eventually be able to breed with Jock. Kera’s  move was recommended as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme which is managed by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria.  

Bat Hearing Study

September 19, 2008  www.eurekalert.com 

Björn Siemers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Germany. Siemers measured whether bats that hunt by listening for rustling insects are affected by man-made noise. This is a question that Siemers is frequently asked by urban planners keen to minimise our impact on local wildlife populations. He and his colleagues Andrea Schaub and Joachim Ostwald monitored foraging bats' responses to rustling mealworms in noisy environments and publish their results on 19th September 2008 in The Journal of Experimental Biology on http://jeb.biologists.org . Working with a group of young male greater mouse-eared bats, Siemers and Schaub allowed individual bats to forage freely in a large soundproof room. Dividing the back of the room in two, the duo provided the bats with a choice of rustling mealworm snacks in each half of the room to dine on. Over the course of several days, the bats divided their attention equally between the two halves of the room, easily locating the rustling nibbles. But how would the bats react when the team switched on a noise in one of the two dining areas?  First, the team synthesized true white noise before playing the sound in one half of the flight arena. The bats instantly avoided the unpleasant buzzing sound, spending more than 80% of their time hunting in the quiet dining area.  Next, they headed out to a local highway to record traffic sounds within 15·m of the busy road. Back in the lab the animals were less bothered by the loud traffic noise than they had been by the white noise buzz. But they still preferred hunting in the quiet dining area, only spending 38.7% of their time gathering mealworms from the traffic noise booth. However, when the bats ventured into the noisy dining area they had no obvious problems locating their rustling prey against the traffic background.

Endangered and Threatened Species Permit Applications

September 19, 2008  www.epa.gov   

Written comments on the following permit applications must be received on or before October 20, 2008. Send to:  Chief, Endangered Species Division, Ecological Services, P.O. Box 1306, Room
6034, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87103. Documents and other information submitted with these applications are available for review, by appointment only, at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 500 Gold Ave., SW., Room 6034, Albuquerque, New Mexico. Please refer to the respective permit number for each application when submitting comments.

Permit TE-122856  Applicant: George Myers, Buda, Texas.  Applicant requests an amendment to a current permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/absence surveys of golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chryosparia) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapilla) within Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas.

Permit TE-187090  Applicant: Patricia Salas, Castle Hills, Texas.  Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/ absence surveys of golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapillus) within Texas.

Permit TE-188015   Applicant: Pueblo of Santa Ana-Natural Resources, Pueblo of Santa Ana, New Mexico. Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/ absence surveys of the Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus) on lands within the Pueblo of Santa Ana.

Permit TE-189566   Applicant: Monica Geick, Austin, Texas.  Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/ absence surveys of golden-cheeked warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) and black-capped vireo (Vireo atricapillus) within Texas.

Permit TE-192229  Applicant: Krista McDermid, Buda, Texas.  Applicant requests a new permit for research and recovery purposes to conduct presence/ absence surveys of the following species: Peck's Cave amphipod (Stygobromus peckii), Comal Spring dryopid beetle (Stygoparnus comalensis), Coffin Cave mold beetle (Batrisodes texanus), Helotes mold beetle (Batrisodes venyivi), Comal Springs riffle beetle (Heterelmis comalensis), ground beetle (Rhadine exilis), ground beetle (Rhadine infernalis), Tooth Cave ground beetle (Rhadine persephone), Robber Baron Cave meshweaver (Cicurina baronia), Madla Cave meshweaver (Cicurina venii), Braken Bat Cave mesheweaver (Cicurina venii), Government Canyon Bat Cave meshweaver (Cicurina vespera), Government Canyon Bat Cave spider (Neoleptoneta microps), Tooth Cave spider (Neoleptoneta myopica), Tooth Cave psuedoscorpion (Tartarocreagris texana), Bee Creek Cave harvestman (Texella reddelli), Bone Cave harvestman (Texella reyesii), and Robber Baron Cave harvestman (Texella cokendolpheri) within Texas.

Permit TE-192855   Applicant: Amnis Opes Institute, LLC. Albany, Oregon.  Applicant requests a new research and recovery permit to conduct presence/absence surveys of the following species: Gila chub (Gila intermedia), Rio Grande silvery minnow (Hybognathus amarus), Pecos gambusia (Gambusia nobilis), Colorado pikeminnow (Ptychocheilus lucius), razorback sucker (Xyrauchen texanus), Gila topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis), and Yaqui topminnow (Poeciliopsis occidentalis sonoreiensis) within New Mexico and Arizona.

Listing the Plant Lepidium papilliferum

September 19, 2008  www.epa.gov/   

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announces the reinstatement of our July 15, 2002, proposed rule to list Lepidium papilliferum (slickspot peppergrass) as endangered. We announce the
reopening of the public comment period on that proposed listing and will accept comments received on or before October 20, 2008.

Final Federal Agency Actions on Proposed Highway in California

September 19, 2008   www.epa.gov   

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) granted licenses, permits, and approvals for the State Route 84 (SR 84) Expressway Widening Project between Jack London Boulevard and Ruby Hill Drive (Post Miles (approximately 22.5 to 27.3) in the County of Alameda, State of California. A claim seeking judicial review of the Federal agency actions on the highway project will be barred unless the claim is filed on or before March 18, 2009. If the Federal law that authorizes judicial review of a claim provides a time period of less than 180 days for filing such claim, then that shorter time period still applies.  For further information contact: Melanie Brent, Caltrans District 4 Office of Environmental Analysis, 111 Grand Avenue, P. O. Box 23660, Oakland, CA 94623-0660, during normal business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Telephone (510) 286-5621, e-mail Melanie Brent/D04/Caltrans/CAGov.

When completed, the project will widen SR 84 from two to four lanes between Ruby Hill Drive and Stanley Boulevard and two to six lanes between Stanley Boulevard and Jack London Boulevard in the City of Livermore, Alameda County, California. The project will improve traffic circulation, upgrade SR 84 to an expressway facility, and improve bicycle and pedestrian access. The project length is 4.8 miles.  The Initial Study with Negative Declaration/Environmental Assessment, FONSI, and other project records are available by contacting Caltrans at the address provided above. The FONSI can be viewed and downloaded from the project Web site at http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist4/envdocs.htm

Final Rule for Protection of Western Snowy Plover

September 19, 2008  www.epa.gov  

This final rule provides for the protection of the Western Snowy Plover (Charadrius alexandruinus nivosus), a species listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Western Snowy Plovers spend approximately 10 months of the year within Golden Gate National Recreation Area (GGNRA), both at Crissy Field and Ocean Beach. This rulemaking will provide temporary protection for plovers in those two areas until a permanent determination is made through the planning process for the entire park. The park is developing a Dog Management Plan/ Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and special regulations for dog management, which are expected to be completed by winter 2010.

California Academy Practices Sustainable Living

September 19, 2008  www.sciencemag.org  By Greg Miller

SAN FRANCISCO--When Pritzker Prize-winning architect Renzo Piano set out 8 years ago to design a new building here for the California Academy of Sciences, he envisioned lifting up a piece of the city's famous Golden Gate Park and slipping the academy's museum underneath it. Now, tucked under an undulating 1-hectare living roof, Piano's vision is ready for visitors. It houses a colony of African penguins, a four-story rainforest, and the deepest coral reef tank in the world. When the building opens to the public 27 September, it will mark a milestone for the 155-year-old academy, which closed the doors on its old museum, aquarium, planetarium, and research buildings in the park nearly 5 years ago, eschewing relatively modest repairs and seismic retrofitting in favor of a more dramatic transformation.  The new building is green, literally and figuratively. The roof mimics the city's rolling hills and is covered with native plants to provide habitat for birds, butterflies, and other insects. Skylights, solar panels, and a host of other eco-friendly features should qualify the museum as the largest public space in the world to earn the U.S. Green Building Council's highest rating for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. "It's a fantastic building," says Leonard Krishtalka, director of the University of Kansas Natural History Museum and Biodiversity Research Center in Lawrence. "It practices what natural history museums are preaching, that we need to live in harmony with biodiversity and harm the environment as little as possible."

The new building also unites the academy's research collections and scientists, who were previously scattered across a 12-building campus. The academy's new dean of science and research collections, evolutionary biologist David Mindell, says the move will help foster greater collaboration among the various disciplines. "This is intended to be a new beginning," Mindell says. The academy's move has roots in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, which damaged several of the old buildings. During the dot-com gold rush of the late 1990s, San Francisco was booming, and the academy's then-director, Patrick Kociolek, saw an opportunity to tap into public goodwill to build a more inspiring museum (Science, 30 April 2004, p. 669). Although a few planned features proved unfeasible, "it is remarkable that the vision we had back in those days actually did turn out pretty much as we'd described it," says Kociolek, now the director of the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History in Boulder. The vision came with a hefty price tag. The entire project, including the transfer of about 300 academy staffers and 20 million specimens to a temporary location during the construction, cost approximately $488 million. So far, the academy has raised about $465 million: about $152 million from city, state, and federal funds, and the rest from individual, corporate, and foundation contributions.

The new museum, which incorporates the once-separate planetarium and aquarium, puts a new face on the academy's public spaces. Old standbys like the Africa hall have been enlivened: The dioramas are still there, but now a video system projects a troop of elephants trudging along on the horizon behind the stuffed zebras and oryx. Live African penguins preen and splash behind a large window.  In the rainforest dome, an underwater tunnel takes visitors below the surface of a flooded Amazon forest, and a ramp takes them up through exhibits of flora and fauna native to other rainforests of the world, including Madagascar--a case study in habitat destruction--and Costa Rica--where large swaths of rainforest have been preserved. The goal is to present the natural world in the context of the scientific issues of our times, such as climate change, extinction, and evolution, says the academy's executive director, Gregory Farrington. "It's not just a series of cases of stuffed lemurs." The living roof is itself an exhibit and an opportunity to teach visitors about sustainable architecture, says senior botany curator Frank Almeda. In addition to providing insulation, the roof's plants absorb storm water to reduce runoff, and its hills funnel air into the museum's central piazza, providing natural ventilation.

AZA Awards for 2008

September 22, 2008  aza.org

Edward H. Bean Top Award
Chicago Zoological Society :Goeldi's Monkey
Disney's Animal Kingdom : Carmine Bee-eater
Excellence in Diversity Top Award
Oregon Zoo : Zoo Animal Presenters (ZAP) Urban Nature Overnights (UNO)
Education Top Award
Disney's Animal Kingdom : Continuing the Legacy of Conservation Education in African Sanctuaries
Education Significant Achievement
Woodland Park Zoo :The Cultural Interpreter Programs
Wildlife Conservation Society :Beyond the Campus
Exhibit Top Award
National Aquarium in Baltimore : Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes
Exhibit Significant Achievement
Minnesota Zoo : Minnesota Trail
International Conservation Top Award
New England Aquarium ; Phoenix Islands Protected Area
International Conservation Significant Achievement
North Carolina Zoo,  Cameroon Elephant Tracking and Conservation Project
Wildlife Conservation Society, Lincoln Park Zoo, Woodland Park Zoo, Reid Park Zoo, Kansas City Zoo, Indianapolis Zoo, Roger Williams Park Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo, Milwaukee Zoo, Tarangire Elephant Project
Excellence in Marketing Top Award  (under $175,000 budget)
Toronto Zoo : Bugzibitz II
Excellence in Marketing Top Award  (over $175,000 budget)
Tennessee Aquarium : Penguins' Rock
Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium : Polar Bears in High Definition
North American Top Conservation Award
Albuquerque Bio Park : Tingley Beach Restoration Project
R. Marlin Perkins Award
 Jack Hanna

Hearing on California Toll Road

September 22, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com  By Terry Rodgers and Mike Lee

DEL MAR  -- More than 1,000 supporters and opponents of the proposed state Route 241 toll-road extension attended a public hearing Monday at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.  Building the 16-mile extension would cost $1.3 billion and take three years.  Environmentalists warned that the tollway would damage San Onofre State Park and a prized surfing spot known as Trestles. “The Coastal Commission got it right. Stop the toll road to nowhere,” urged Mark Massara, director of California coastal programs for the Sierra Club.  Milford Wayne Donaldson, the state's historic preservation officer, said he is preparing to ask the National Park Service to make the Trestles surf break the first surf site in the country to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Dave Stefanides, representing the Orange County Association of Realtors, told Luxton that the toll road should be completed so that Interstate 5 or other routes aren't widened. If that happens, he said, homeowners in south Orange County could lose their homes.  Officials for the corridor agency said extending the tollway, which eventually could have six lanes, is critical to lessening traffic gridlock along Interstate 5 in southern Orange County. In February, the California Coastal Commission denied permission for the agency to build the extension. The agency appealed to the Commerce Department, which is expected to issue a ruling by Jan. 7. Part of the lengthened toll road would be on federal land, so federal officials can overrule the Coastal Commission. 

State of the World’s Birds

September 22, 2008  www.birdlife.org

Common birds are in decline across the world, providing evidence of a rapid deterioration in the global environment. All the world’s governments have committed themselves to slowing or halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010. A new publication, State of the Worlds Birds, and website: http://birdlife.org/sowb   launched today at BirdLife International’s World Conference in Buenos Aires.  “Birds provide an accurate and easy to read environmental barometer, allowing us to see clearly the pressures our current way of life are putting on the world’s biodiversity”, said Dr Mike Rands - BirdLife's CEO.  The report states that 45% of common European birds are declining Twenty North American common birds have more than halved in number in the last four decades: Northern Bobwhite Colinus virginianus fell most dramatically, by 82%. In Latin America, the Yellow Cardinal Gubernatrix cristata - once common in Argentina - is now classified as globally Endangered.  Millions of White-rumped Vultures Gyps bengalensis used to fly in Asian skies but have now crashed by 99.9%.  Widespread birds like the Eurasian Eagle Owl are believed to be vanishing from Middle Eastern forests, and seabirds - including Critically Endangered Chatham Albatross Thalassarche eremita - are disappearing from the world’s oceans.

Captive Breeding Introduced Disease to Mallorcan Amphibians

September 22, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

A potentially deadly fungus that can kill frogs and toads was inadvertently introduced into Mallorca by a captive breeding programme that was reintroducing a rare species of toad into the wild, according to a new study published today in the journal Current Biology. The study, by researchers from Imperial College London and international colleagues, reveals that captive Mallorcan midwife toads released into the wild in 1991 were infected with the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd). Measures to screen the health of the toads did not pick up the fungus, because at the time it was not known to science.  The chytrid fungus, which lives in the water and on the skin of host amphibians such as frogs, toads, salamanders and newts, has been known to cause amphibian population extinctions in Europe. Globally, the disease has been found in over 87 countries and has driven rapid amphibian declines in areas including Australia and Central America, pushing some species to extinction. Bd is currently rare in the UK, having only been detected in three locations.

Release of Oregon-spotted Frogs

September 22, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

FORT LEWIS, Wash. -- Biologists released hundreds of Oregon-spotted frogs back into the wild on Monday.  For their first seven months, they were raised at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in a program managed by Allison Abraham.  The frogs were released into a lake on the Fort Lewis Military Reservation. Tracking belts were attached to the frogs' bodies so scientists can keep track of them. This is the first time the state has captured and raised the endangered frogs, which hey can be found in lakes, from British Columbia to Northern California. The Oregon-spotted frogs are endangered due to non-native predators, environmental changes and habitat loss. Today there are fewer than ten areas in Thurston and Klickitat Counties where they live.

Knut’s Zookeeper is Found Dead

September 23, 2008  www.guardian.co.uk

Zookeeper Thomas Dörflein who hand-reared Knut the polar bear and helped turn the animal into a global celebrity has been found dead in his Berlin flat, police said today.  He was said to have been seriously ill for some time, and officers do not believe any foul play was involved.  Dörflein became Knut's surrogate parent when the cub was rejected by his mother, Tosca, after being born at the Zoologischer Garten Berlin in December 2006.  Thanks to round-the-clock care from the 44-year-old, who hand-fed Knut and slept in the same cage, the polar bear cub became the first at the zoo to survive past infancy for more than 30 years.  Dörflein and Knut built a special rapport, and the bearded zookeeper was rarely seen without the white bear following close behind.  As Knut grew, however, it became too dangerous for Dörflein to play with him. Last November, the zoo decided it would be best if all contact between the two was cut off.  Some animal rights activists argued that Knut should have been killed rather than turned into a "domestic pet", and others claim the animal is showing signs of disturbed behavior.  Last year, Dörflein, a father of three, was awarded the Medal of Merit by the city of Berlin for his work in rearing Knut and raising the zoo's profile.

Pan Wenshi Saves China’s White-headed Langurs

September 23, 2008  www.iht.com  By Phil Mckenna

CHONGZUO, China:  In 1996, Dr. Pan Wenshi, China’s premier panda biologist,  began studying  the white-headed langurs in Nongguan Nature Reserve in Chongzuo, This was at a time when hunters were taking the baby langurs, and villagers were leveling the forest for firewood.  Pan quickly hired wardens to protect the remaining animals but then went a step further, taking on the larger social and economic factors jeopardizing the species. A breakthrough in protecting the species came in 1997 when he helped local villagers build a pipeline to secure clean drinking water. Shortly thereafter, a farmer from the village freed a trapped langur and brought it to Pan. "When you help the villagers, they would like to help you back," he said.  As self-appointed local advocate, Pan raised money for a new school in another village, oversaw the construction of health clinics in two neighboring towns and organized physicals for women throughout the area."Now, when outsiders try to trap langurs," Pan said, "the locals stop them from coming in."  But the villagers were still dependent on the reserve's trees for fuel.  In 2000, he received a $12,500 environmental award from Ford Motor Company. He used the money to build biogas digesters — concrete-lined pits that capture methane gas from animal waste — to provide cooking fuel for roughly 1,000 people.  Based on the project's success, the federal government financed a sevenfold increase in construction of tanks to hold biogas. Today, 95 percent of the population living just outside the reserve burn biogas in their homes. In the 24-square-kilometer nature reserve where he has focused his studies, the langur population increased to more than 500 today from 96 in 1996, and the park's number and diversity of trees — the langurs' primary habitat and sole food source — has increased significantly.

"It's a model of what can be done in hot-spot areas that have been devastated by development," said Dr. Russell Mittermeier, the president of Conservation International. "Pan has combined all the elements — protection, research, ecotourism, good relations with the local community; he's really turned the langur into a flagship for the region."  Part of what makes Pan's achievements so remarkable is the success he is having compared with the fate of primates elsewhere. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's most recent Red List, nearly half of the world's 634 primate species and subspecies are in danger of extinction. "If you look at the Red List, Asia has by far the highest percentage in the threatened categories," Mittermeier said.

800 Asian Openbill Storks Die When Tree Crashes

September 23, 2008  www.pretorianews.co.za

NEW DELHI, India - More than 800 Asian openbill storks died after the banyon tree where they were nesting fell. The 200-year-old banyan tree that served as their colony crashed last week into a pond inside a Buddhist monastery some 300km east of state capital Guwahati.  "Five monks led special funeral prayers at the monastery on Sunday as the incident of the banyan tree crashing and the subsequent deaths of so many storks is considered a bad omen," a villager said.  The banyan tree was home to about 1 500 storks of the species listed as endangered under the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, the report said.  The global population of these storks is estimated at 130 000.they are found mainly in India and Sri Lanka and in some south-east Asian countries.

USDA Changes California’s Bovine TB Status

September 23, 2008  www.aphis.usda.gov

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is reclassifying California as modified accredited advanced for bovine tuberculosis (TB).  This action is necessary to reduce the likelihood of the spread of the disease within the United States. An epidemiological investigation of a TB-positive cow found through slaughter surveillance in December 2007 resulted in the confirmation of an affected dairy herd.  The investigation continued, and officials recently identified two additional affected dairy herds.  The finding of a second affected herd within a 48-month period means that California no longer meets the requirements for accredited-free status.  As a result of this action, cattle or bison being moved interstate from anywhere in California will now have to meet the testing requirements that apply to animals from modified accredited advanced states or zones.  However, intact heifers still can be shipped interstate if moved directly to a feedlot or in feeder channels.   Also, the movement of spayed heifers and steers, cattle from a TB-accredited free herd and cattle or bison less than 6 months of age, can continue. Bovine TB is a contagious and infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium bovis.  It affects cattle, bison, deer, elk, goats and other warm-blooded species and can be fatal.  The disease can be transmitted to humans through direct contact with infected animals or consumption of raw milk.  It is not transmitted through pasteurized milk.  If a producer suspects TB in their herd, they should isolate the animal immediately and contact their veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

USDA Releases Official Animal Disease Traceability Business Plan

September 23, 2008  www.aphis.usda.gov

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today released the official version of its Business Plan to Advance Animal Disease Traceability.  The plan provides benchmarks to guide the National Animal Identification System’s progress towards the long-term goal of 48-hour traceback of affected or exposed animals in the event of an animal disease outbreak.  The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) is a modern, streamlined information system that helps producers and animal health officials respond quickly and effectively to events affecting animal health in the United States.  NAIS utilizes premises registration, animal identification and animal tracing components to both locate potentially diseased animals and release animals from disease suspicion.  It is a state-federal-industry partnership, which is voluntary at the federal level.
The business plan takes a comprehensive look at the country's current traceability status, including a breakdown by species and details seven strategies that will provide the greatest amount of traceability progress where it is needed the most.  These strategies involve state and federally regulated and voluntary animal health programs--one of the plan’s priorities is to integrate NAIS standards in existing disease programs to makes the most out of current disease control activities.  Strategies also provide opportunities for producers to use the same identification methods for industry-administered animal management and marketing programs.  Such approaches ensure producers cost effective livestock identification solutions to achieve their management and business objectives.  Likewise, the 840 identification tags used in NAIS enables producers to easily provide information on origin of their livestock to packers.  In turn, packers can rely on this information for their origin claims on products, in accordance with country of origin labeling (COOL).

USDA has approved twenty 840 identification devices providing producers with both visual and electronic identification options for participation in the animal identification component of NAIS. 
USDA is also making progress on integrating NAIS data standards and automatic data capture technology into program disease work.  In the ongoing bovine tuberculosis (TB) investigation taking place in California, the taskforces have tagged more than 250,000 head with RFID 840 tags.  The animal identification number encoded in each tag can easily be read with an electronic reader as each animal is tested and then automatically transferred with the test records to the information system.  The handheld computers and electronic eartags makes the testing of the cattle less time consuming for the producer and animal health officials while eliminating manual written test sheets as well as the labor intensive data entry and associated errors.

America's Smallest Dinosaur

September 23, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

An unusual breed of dinosaur that was the size of a chicken, ran on two legs and scoured the ancient forest floor for termites is the smallest dinosaur species found in North America, according to a University of Calgary researcher who analyzed bones found during the excavation of an ancient bone bed near Red Deer, Alberta.  “These animals have long and slender legs, stumpy arms with huge claws and tweezer-like jaws," said Nick Longrich, a paleontology research associate in the Department of Biological Sciences. "This appears to be the smallest dinosaur yet discovered in North America."  Called Albertonykus borealis, the slender bird-like creature is a new member of the family Alvarezsauridae and is one of only a few such fossils found outside of South America and Asia. In a paper published in the current issue of the journal Cretaceous Research, Longrich and University of Alberta paleontologist Philip Currie describe the specimen and explain how it it likely specialized in consuming termites by using its small but powerful forelimbs to tear into logs.

Geneticists Say Extinction May Not Be Forever

September 23, 2008  www.physorg.com

Yale scientists report that genetic traces of extinct species of Galapagos tortoises exist in descendants now living in the wild, a finding that could spur breeding programs to restore the species, The report appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Darwin first visited the island of Floreana in 1835 and within a few decades, 4 of the 15 known species he had recorded had disappeared. Museum specimens and current molecular technology, coupled with 15 years of field work studying the tortoise population now on the Galapagos archipelago by Gisella Caccone and Jeffrey Powell, has painted a new picture of the origins and future of some of the tortoises. The database they established includes information from more than 2000 animals — so they know the genetic profile of each population. Their data show that all the known species and taxons of tortoises are genetically unique, which allows them to identify animals whose genetic information came from another species.  Matching museum specimens to current populations showed both distinct lineages and intermingled species. Of particular note, the team found tortoises on Volcano Wolf of the island Isabella — the furthest separated island of the archipelago — that had both the mitochondrial DNA and nuclear markers of the Floreana lineage.

Delisting of Gray Wolves Reconsidered

September 23, 2008  www.nytimes.com  By JIM ROBBINS

HELENA, Mont. — The federal agency that removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in March has changed its mind and is asking a federal judge to vacate the decision. “We are going to take a look at everything again and address the concerns expressed to us by the judge and everyone else,” said Sharon Rose of the service’s Mountain Prairie Office.  The Natural Resources Defense Council filed a lawsuit in July, that said among other things that a plan to control the wolf population relied too heavily on killing the animals, rather than on nonlethal means of control. They also said the wolves’ genetics, which dictate their long-term survivability, were not well understood.  The reconsideration of the listing was not related to a recently announced decline in the wolf population in the Rockies. Wildlife officials counted 1,455 animals this summer, down from 1,545 a year ago. It was the first drop in more than 10 years and officials said they were not sure why.  The first wolf hunting season, scheduled for this fall, was delayed after Judge Molloy’s order. If the judge grants the Fish and Wildlife Service’s request, it will be further delayed until the re-evaluation is complete.  But state and federal agents in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming will still be allowed to kill problem wolves that threaten livestock. Since wolves returned to the West in the 1990s federal agents have killed more than 1,000 wolves, and last year 186 problem wolves were killed in the three states.

Hyacinth Macaws Breed at Chester Zoo

September 24, 2008 www.chesterchronicle.co.uk

Chester Zoo’s Hyacinth Macaws, James and his partner Penny successfully hatched a chick in May but it has only now left its nest box.  It spent 16 weeks tucked away inside, being cared for predominantly by Penny. Both James and Penny arrived at the zoo in 1992 from America. The pair showed no interest in breeding until they moved into a new accommodation, and it is believed that changes to their diet – has led to the breeding success. The pair had a chick in the past but showed little interest in rearing it themselves, leaving it to zookeepers to raise. “Hyacinth macaws have a highly specialised feeding regime. We have been making lots of changes to their diet to provide the them with the best nutrition possible to allow the best chance of natural reproduction.” Said Andrew Woolham, Team Leader with Parrots and Penguins.  The birds have a naturally slow reproductive rate in the wild, which means that once a population is reduced through trapping and habitat loss, it takes a long time to recover.  They are the world’s largest parrot and are found in Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay. They are considered endangered due to the illegal pet trade and habitat loss as a result of land clearance for cattle ranching.

Acoustic Communication in Deep-sea Fish

September 24, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

An international research team studying sound production in deep-sea fishes has found that cusk-eels use several sets of muscles to produce sound that plays a prominent role in male mating calls. These findings, published online today in the Royal Society journal, Biology Letters, may help researchers gain further insight into acoustic communication in the deep sea and the role of sound in fish behavior.  They examined the sonic muscles of the fawn cusk-eel, Lepophidium profundorum, a species found in the Atlantic Ocean.  Based on anatomy, ophidiid fishes, or cusk-eels, are likely one of the chief sound producers. They have unusual sonic muscles that occur in antagonistic pairs and are typically larger in males,” said Michael L. Fine, a professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Biology.   Many fish use an organ known as a swim bladder to produce sound. According to Fine, the fawn cusk-eel uses two muscle pairs to pivot a modified rib, ‘the wing-like process,’ forward. This action stretches the swim bladder. An antagonistic muscle pair then restores the swim bladder to its original position. 

AZA Award to Lincoln Park

September 24, 2008 www.zandavisitor.com   By Sharon Dewar

Chicago, IL - Lincoln Park Zoo jointly with eight other zoological institutions received its 2008 Significant Achievement Award for International Conservation for providing critical support to the Tarangire Elephant Project in Tanzania. The award was presented at the 84th Annual AZA Conference held last week in Milwaukee.  AZA names conservation as its highest priority, and annually recognizes exceptional efforts by AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums, related or international facilities, and conservation partners toward habitat preservation, species restoration, and support of biodiversity in the wild through its International Conservation Award.  For fifteen years, the Tarangire Elephant Project has been studying and protecting the elephants in Tanzania’s Tarangire National Park and the surrounding area – as well as other iconic wildlife there including zebra, wildebeest, and buffalo. For more than a decade, Lincoln Park Zoo has provided research funding and essential scientific expertise. Lincoln Park Zoo Research Biologist Lisa Faust, Ph.D. works directly with the project’s founders and directors Charles and Lara Foley to analyze data and model the ecosystem. They have several scientific publications in the works. 

Having documented a gradual increase in the target elephant population over the years (linked to a decline in the massive ivory poaching of the 1970s and 1980s), other threats now loom including intense competition and conflict with a burgeoning human population. However, in an exemplary, long-term conservation partnership of zoos, governmental and non-governmental actors, and local communities, the Tarangire Elephant Project uses sound science, heartfelt appreciation of this unique ecosystem, and ongoing capacity-building to lead a model conservation program. “In addition to their ground-breaking elephant behavioral research, the Foleys have made real contributions to the tough conservation work of assessing and protecting key habitat essential to a healthy Tarangire ecosystem. Their work not only protects the elephants, but the ecological dynamics of Tarangire,” said Faust.

Great Bustard Release on Salisbury Plain

September 24, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Researchers at the University of Bath and conservationists from the Great Bustard Group will be releasing 19 birds on Salisbury Plain on Thursday 25 September as part of an ongoing reintroduction project in the UK.  The globally threatened Great Bustard is the heaviest flying bird in the world and due to habitat loss and hunting became extinct in the UK during Victorian times. Over the last three years, researchers in the Department of Biology & Biochemistry at the University of Bath have been working with conservationists at the Great Bustard Group to manage the reintroduction of the birds to the UK and study existing wild populations in Russia. This will be the fifth batch of young birds from Russia to be released on the site. They will join the small flock of birds from the previous four years’ releases that are still regular visitors to the site at Salisbury Plain.  The researchers are hoping the birds will start to breed next year and will their complex mating rituals.  The project has been led for the University by Professor Tamas Szekely of the Department of Biology & Biochemistry. John Burnside, a PhD student from his group, will be collecting data on the British and Russian populations and comparing them with existing knowledge of populations in Spain. Although the Spanish populations of Great Bustards have been extensively studied, very little is known about their relatives in Russia.

Plankton May Survive Climate Change

September 24, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Billions of Calanus finmarchicus, a plankton species, live in the waters of the North Atlantic  Research has shown that they responded to global warming after the last Ice Age, around 18,000 years ago, by moving north and maintaining large population sizes and also suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat. One of the main predicted effects of climate change is a forced shift in species' distribution range. The study leader, Dr Jim Provan, from Queen's School of Biological Sciences, said the discovery that that a species has a feature which helps it cope with global warming is a rare example of good news. "The genetic variability of the species - the tendency of the genetic make-up of a population to vary from one individual to another - has remained high, which is good news, and suggests that these animals might be able to track the current change in habitat resulting from global warming and maintain viable population sizes. "If the species couldn't, it might become extinct and thus threaten the fish species that depend upon it for food.  The research has been published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, a publication of the national academy of science of the UK and the Commonwealth, today.

Exterminating Alaska’s Rat Island's Rats

September 24, 2008 www.physorg.com

Worldwide, rats cause up to 60 percent of seabird extinctions, with most of those happening on islands, according to Island Conservation, a California-based conservation group focused on protecting island life, and the risk of rat invasions is growing.  After years of planning a $3 million wildlife project is being launced by a crew of 18 on little Rat Island at the end of the Aleutian chain.  By coating the island with tiny toxic pellets, scientists hope to exterminate Norway rats, which jumped off a shipwrecked Japanese ship in the 18th century and colonized the 6,871-acre island 1,700 miles from Anchorage.  Rats have been removed from some 300 islands around the world, including islands in New Zealand and atolls near Hawaii. But it will be the first time rats have been removed from an Alaska island said Steve Ebbert, the biologist and invasive species project leader at the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge who's coordinating the rat attack.

Disneyland Sued Over Dog Attack

September 24, 2008  www.dailynews.com  By Rachel Uranga

SANTA ANA, Calif.—The family of a small girl is suing Disneyland, claiming she was mauled by a dog at the park's petting zoo on September 23,  2006 when she was 2 years old.  The dog bit her several times on the face and leaving her permanently scarred.  A Disneyland employee adopted the 6-year-old dog named Hemmingway from the Orange County Animal Shelter and brought it to the theme park two weeks before the attack. The dog was placed on a box in the Big Thunder petting zoo while a park employee held its leash and invited children to pet it.  The child had been petting the dog with her two siblings for several minutes and was saying goodbye when it lunged at her.  The shelter had called the dog "not very social" and said it had a history of aggression, the lawsuit claims. The lawsuit seeks unspecified punitive damages and reimbursement for the family's medical costs and the trauma it suffered. Disney officials declined comment Wednesday when reached by the Los Angeles Daily News, saying they do not comment on pending litigation.

Reproductive Competition Can Delay Species Recovery

September 24, 2008  www.nature.com  By Natasha Gilbert

The battles for reproductive supremacy between individuals of an endangered species can significantly hamper the population's recovery rate, according to a study by U.C. Riverside biologists led by Andrés López-Sepulcre.  They measured the effects of this competition on conservation, and suggest that some aspects of conservation practice, such as supplementary feeding of threatened species, should be re-evaluated to take account of this effect. The team analyzed reproduction in the Seychelles magpie robins (Copsychus sechellarum), which in 1988 were one of the world's most endangered birds. The researchers found through computer modeling that breeding competition slowed the birds' recovery out of critically endangered status by 33%.  Scientists have extensive records of each individual bird between 1988 and 2004, including records of mating behaviour.  The findings are published in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

EPA Libraries Open Doors Again

September 24, 2008  edocket.access.gpo.gov

In 2006, the Bush administration began working to dismantle the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s network of technical libraries. EPA pushed ahead with library closures, without waiting for Congress to approve its plans. These libraries provided essential services to EPA staff and to the general public. Now, under orders from Congress, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will again provide access to library services in 15 states and its own headquarters to agency employees and the public. On September 30th, the last day of the federal fiscal year, EPA will re-open its regional libraries in Chicago (serving the Great Lakes region), Dallas (Mid-Southern region) and Kansas City (Mid-Western region) after more than two years. In addition, a long-shuttered library in EPA Headquarters will re-open and include a small portion of holdings from what had been a free-standing Chemical Library, for research on the properties and effects of new chemicals, as a “special Chemical Collection”.

CI’s Madagascar Conservation Program

September 25, 2008  www.time.com   By BRYAN WALSH/ANDASIBE

The Réserve Spéciale d'Analamazaotra, is one of the few remaining untouched forests on Madagascar, where more than 90% of the native tree cover has already been lost from logging and slash-and-burn agriculture, the forests that once covered much of Madagascar have been burnt or torn down, replaced by muddy rice paddies and secondary shrubs..  Madagascar's native plants and animals evolved in isolation for 80 million years, and as a result, the 587,000-sq-km country, has perhaps the highest level of biodiversity per capita in the world. It's one of about 25 “hotspots” on Earth that have suffered massive habitat loss.  These “hotspots” account for less than 2% of the planet's land surface, but are home to about half the world's plant species and a third of vertebrate animals. The vast majority of Madagascar's 2,300 species are found nowhere else on Earth, and deforestation, a swelling human population and the early effects of climate change have already pushed countless species to extinction. Of the surviving 71 lemur species and subspecies on Madagascar, 63% are endangered. And scientists now recognize that deforestation in tropical countries like Madagascar could be responsible for up to a quarter of global greenhouse gas emissions, giving another new incentive to save and expand forests.

Near Andasibe, a former logging village that is now home to a burgeoning ecotourism trade. Conservation International, led by Russell Mittermeier, is working on a project that will hire local villagers to plant trees on land that had been cleared. The benefit is two-fold: The new forests will earn carbon credits under the Kyoto Protocol, since the trees will sequester carbon dioxide that would otherwise warm the atmosphere, and eventually the forests will help rebuild the habitat for species like the indri and other lemurs. The project also employs villagers and gives them a financial stake in the new forests. To save the animals, you need to save the trees, and to save the trees, you need to save the people. "We're bringing back the shelter of the forests, and we don't have to cut trees for charcoal," says Herve Tahirimalala, 28, who is paid about $100 a month to work the plantation — a decent wage in one of the poorest nations. Poverty and habitat loss go hand in hand in Madagascar and in much of the developing world, and only win-win solutions will work for conservation.

Iditarod Sled Dog Physiology

September 25, 2008  www.the-aps.org

Since dogs became domesticated 15,000 years ago, they have worked with and lived next to humans.  Each of the 400 breeds and varieties are unique, but only one stands out as the ultra-athlete canine: the racing sled dogs.  Racing sled dogs are the premier ultra-endurance competitors, covering 1,100 miles from Anchorage to Nome, Alaska, in the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race, sometimes in just nine days. It is unclear how they can keep running, despite heavy blizzards, temperatures as low as –40°F, and winds up to 60 mph.  No other animal has been found to come close to the physiological attributes these dogs display.  Dr. Michael Davis, of Oklahoma State University’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences, has done research on the breed for the past 10 years.  He has found that the most striking feature of these canines is their ability to rapidly adapt to sustained strenuous exercise in 24-48 hours. Conditioned dogs display most of the metabolic changes that are found in human endurance athletes during their first day of exercise, including depletion of muscle energy reserves, increases in stress hormones, evidence of cellular injury (such as to proteins, lipids and DNA), and oxidative stress. However, with subsequent consecutive days of exercise at the same intensity, these changes are reversed. Within four days after exercise begins, the metabolic profile of the dogs returns to where it was before the race began, despite their sustained, strenuous exercise. When human ultra-athletes become fatigued, they stay that way until a period of recovery that may take a full day.

New Bacterial Disease Identified In Pet Lizards

September 25, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

Desert-dwelling lizards belonging to the genera Agama and Uromastyx that live in the arid and desert areas of North Africa are now bred in captivity in Europe. "The establishment of healthy captive populations is an important tool for the conservation of threatened species," said Professor An Martel from Ghent University, Belgium. "On the other hand, restocking of wild populations with captive bred animals carrying pathogens might compromise the survival of these wild populations. Skin diseases are highly prevalent in captive lizards and can lead to fatal organ disease and septicaemia infections."  Dermatitis is the most important known bacterial disease of desert lizards that prevents successful captive populations from being established. One example is the captive breeding programme of the rare Oman dab lizard (Uromastyx thomasi) a joint project between Germany and Oman, to which pathogens like this may pose a real threat.  "We isolated bacteria from five different desert lizards suffering from dermatitis, two agama lizards (Agama impalearis) and three spiny-tailed lizards (Uromastyx geyri and U. acanthinura)," said Professor Martel. "We could not identify the bacterium that was causing the disease, but the pathogen was the same in all five lizards."  The researchers looked at the genetic sequence of the bacterium and discovered it represents a new taxon and species. They have named the bacterium Devriesea agamarum. "This microbe is also related to bacteria that cause skin infections in humans."  The study was published in the September issue of the International Journal of Systematic and Evolutionary Microbiology

West Nile Virus in San Diego County this Week

September 25, 2008  www.westnile.ca.gov

West Nile Virus Activity for San Diego County this Week:
HUMAN CASES :  None,  (YTD  In all of California: 247)
HORSES : 1  ( YTD In all of California: 21)
DEAD BIRDS: 26  (YTD In all of California: 2,094)
MOSQUITO SAMPLES:  6  (YTD In all of California: 1,723)
SENTINEL CHICKENS  3  (YTD In all of California: 255)
SQUIRRELS : None (YTD In all of California : 24)
There have been 2 new WNV positive squirrels reported in California this week from Los Angeles (1) and Sacramento (1) counties. This is the first WNV positive squirrel from Sacramento County this year. 24 squirrels from 6 counties have tested positive for WNV in 2008.

AZA Award for Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo

September 25, 2008  seattlepi.nwsource.com

SEATTLE -- Seattle's Woodland Park Zoo has received the 2008 Significant Achievement Award for International Conservation from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. The award is for the zoo's support of the Tarangire Elephant Project. It was presented at the 84th annual AZA Conference held last week in Milwaukee. The elephant project is one of 35 conservation programs supported by the zoo in more than 40 nations. For 15 years, the project has been studying and protecting the elephants in Tanzania's Tarangire National Park and the surrounding area.

Rapid Diagnostic Tests: The future?

September 25, 2008   www.scidev.net    By Katherine Nightingale

In developing countries, even if available, diagnostics are likely be outdated. The Foundation for Innovative Diagnostics (FIND) says, diagnostic tests need to be quick, simple to use and easy to interpret with little training. They must also be completely self-contained, with no maintenance or calibration required. And they need to work — patients who have traveled miles to a health centre can't easily come back if a test doesn't work or takes days to give a result. Malaria is often diagnosed on symptoms alone, which are shared with a number of other fever-causing diseases such as influenza and dengue fever. This often leads to over-treatment by clinicians who have been trained for decades that fever means malaria. An estimated 500 million malaria treatments a year are prescribed for a different cause of fever. And in areas suffering high levels of malaria transmission, the WHO recommends that anti-malarial drugs are given to all children with fevers, and the practice is immensely expensive for healthcare systems

Shaping Science Education in 100 Words

September 25, 2008  www.nature.com  By Marco Prunotto

A science workshop held in Venice earlier this year entitled '100 parole per la scienza' challenged a group of one hundred 16–18-year-olds to choose 100 words that, in their collective opinion, represent crucial factors and concepts influencing trends in science today. The students were from schools all over Italy.  Their final list was assembled after an imaginative range of seminars from notable scientists and thinkers, and after extensive discussion and individual word searches of scientific works on the web and in books and journals. Here is the result, in alphabetical order: Acid/base, aggregation status, analysis, antimatter, apparatus, atmosphere, atom, bacteria, Big Bang, biodiversity, bioethics, biosphere, black hole, carbon, cell, chaos, climate, cloning, DNA, ecosystem, electricity, electron, element, energy, entropy, environment, enzyme, equilibrium, error, ethology, evolution, experiment, force, fossil, galaxy, gene, genetically modified organism, gravity, greenhouse effect, H2O, heat, hydrocarbon, infinity, intelligence, Internet, life, light, link, magnetism, mass, matter, measurement, metabolism, mind, mole, molecule, motion, mutation, natural selection, nebula, neuron, organism, osmosis, particle, periodic table, pH, photosynthesis, planet, pollution, pressure, probability, protein, pulsar, quantum, quark, radioactivity, reaction, relativity, reproduction, research, rule, science, scientific method, solution, space, species, star, stem cell, symbiosis, systems, technology, temperature, theory, time, tissue, tumour, Universe, vacuum, virus, wave.  Scientists might all learn something from this list, representing as it does how our everyday work is perceived by a small sample of bright youngsters

AZA Award to Pittsburgh Zoo Wins

September 26, 2008  www.post-gazette.com

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium has won the Excellence in Marketing Award of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums for its "Polar Bears in High Definition" campaign. MARC Advertising developed the campaign concept and created the television and print ads. The campaign used a wide variety of traditional and nontraditional media, from sidewalk chalk drawings of the bears to social Web sites YouTube and Flickr, to reach its goal of 1 million visitors. Video and still photos of polar bears in the tunnel were posted and attracted thousands of viewers.  "We opened the polar bear tundra in 2006, so our big idea in 2007 was to capitalize on that opening and generate excitement about the opening of the underwater polar bear tunnel in 2007," said Dr. Barbara Baker, the zoo's president and chief executive officer.  More than 200 zoos and aquariums were eligible to submit an award proposal. Pittsburgh was one of two top awardees in the $175,000-plus ad campaign category.

Zoo Animals May Be Milk-powder Poisoning Victims

September 26, 2008  www.nst.com.my

The baby formula scandal has spread to animals as two baby orangutans fed with tainted milk powder in a zoo showed early symptoms of kidney stones, Xinhua news agency said quoting a local media report.  An African lion cub may also be sicked, but the test result is yet to be confirmed, a veterinarian surnamed Shan said, according to Thursday’s Youth Times. The three animal victims in the toxic milk scandal, which had killed four children and left many others sickened across the country, were raised in the Hangzhou Safari Park of east China’s Zhejiang Province. The two orangutans, 15-month-old Qimao and his three-year-old brother Liumao, and the 3-month-old lion were sent to Zhangxu Animal Hospital in Hangzhou, the provincial capital, on Wednesday for a medical checkup. The zoo had fed them with baby formula made by Sanlu Group, the centre of the tainted milk crisis, for up to two years, according to animal keeper Zhang. “We had tried several brands including domestic and imported ones, but Sanlu appeared to be the best as it contains rich calcium.  “We were astonished to hear about the milk powder was tainted and immediately stopped feeding with Sanlu,” he said.  Some crystalline solid of about penpoint size was found in the urine samples of the orangutans, which usually indicated the early stage of kidney stones, according to Zhang. While type-B ultrasonic inspection found that the lion’s bladder wall appeared thicker than normal, a sign of early kidney stones. The vet was waiting for the lion’s urine sample for further tests.  Sickened animals take anti-stone medicines. The zoo would send urine samples of all other animals fed by Sanlu to the hospital for inspection.

Siamese Crocodiles Hatched at Detroit Zoo

September 26, 2008  www.detnews.com    By Santiago Esparza

ROYAL OAK -- Three Siamese crocodiles hatched at the Detroit Zoo in July.  "One of the keepers thought she heard the chirping sounds baby crocodiles emit to let the mother know they've hatched and figured it was a co-worker joking around," Curator of Reptiles Jeff Jundt said in a release. "When she realized the sounds were in fact coming from the Siamese crocodile habitat, she dug into the nest and found three chirping babies."  The 3 foot-long crocs are now on display in the Holden Museum of Living Reptiles. The zoo has tried since 1992 to breed the crocodiles after receiving a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Population Management Plan.

Hamilton Zoo Produces 90th Kea Chick

September 26, 2008 www.stuff.co.nz

Hamilton Zoo has bred its first kea chick in 15 years, after being given permission to boost the numbers in captivity.  Only 100 kea are kept in captivity throughout the country in a managed breeding programme, and when Hamilton was given the nod to put first-time parents, Tane (15) and Kowhai (9) to work, numbers had fallen to 89. The pair laid three eggs. "Four zoos have been asked to each breed a chick this year, if possible," said Hamilton Zoo director Stephen Standley. "We were very excited when the recommendation to breed came through, and especially when our birds were quick to respond and produced a healthy chick. "We destroyed two eggs and replaced them with dummy eggs." The zoo did not wait to select the healthiest fledgling because that would mean killing the chicks which were rejected -- a move unlikely to be popular with the public.  The remaining egg hatched on September 15, and the chick will take up to 13 weeks to leave the nest so won't be on show to the public until around mid-December.

AZA Award to Oregon Zoo

September 26, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com  By Bill LaMarche

Portland, OR - The Oregon Zoo's Urban Nature Overnight and Zoo Animal Presenters programs received the Excellence in Diversity award at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' national conference last week in Milwaukee.  The award honors "significant achievement in workforce and audience diversity by an AZA member institution." The zoo's ZAP and UNO programs have been working to connect urban youth with animals and nature since 1999. Participants interact with live animals, go camping, raise salmon, visit local natural areas, learn about careers in conservation and form lasting connections with the natural world.  Pam McElwee, ZAP program coordinator, said, "ZAP and UNO are designed to foster an appreciation of nature and wildlife in underserved, ethnically diverse populations. These two programs have made such a difference in the lives of our kids." ZAP is a two-year, paid internship program that trains students in natural science, animal handling, interpretation methods and public speaking -- helping participants build confidence and providing them with real-world work experience. ZAP team members receive training and mentoring to become teachers in their communities. This year, the zoo is piloting a third year of the ZAP internship. Third-year members work with the UNO program as mentors and trainers and conduct hands-on field-conservation work. UNO provides children ages 8 through 11 with overnight camping and outdoor education opportunities. Second-year ZAP members serve as UNO counselors, teaching campers about animals and nature while they camp overnight at the zoo and other local natural areas. UNO also provides after-school programs that continue educational experiences for youth participants and ZAP members. Since 1999, ZAP has employed 111 teens and provided more than a thousand outreach opportunities to more than 75,000 children and adults. Since 2000, UNO has taken more than 2,000 children on camping trips and provided school-year programming for 400 youth.

McCain Criticizes $3 million to study Bear DNA

September 27, 2008   www.factcheck.org 

In John McCain’s ads and during his debate with Barak Obama he criticizes a “$3 million study of the DNA of bears in Montana.”  But the United States Geological Service’s Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project is considered an extremely well-done conservation project.  The study was able to estimate Montana’s grizzly bear population by analyzing bear fur snagged on barbed wire. The project was funded partly by federal appropriations – about $1 million per year in add-ons to USGS in 2003 through 2005, $400,000 in 2006 and $300,000 in 2007, plus a $1.1 million earmark through the Forest Service in 2004, according to the study’s principal researcher, Katherine C. Kendall. But despite McCain’s ridiculing the bear project on the Senate floor, he didn’t try to remove it from the bill, and actually voted in favor of the final bill.

Producer of Fake South China Tiger Photo is Jailed

September 27, 2008  www.physorg.com

Zhou Zhenglong, a 54-year-old farmer, said he took the photo of the rare South China Tiger,  in October of last year. He was awarded 20,000 yuan by the provincial forestry department for capturing a photo of the extremely rare animal.  But experts subsequently revealed the pictures were fake after doubts began to emerge online, as interested netizens found an old poster with a photo of a tiger which looked like Zhou's picture.  Police later arrested him after finding an old tiger poster that Zhou allegedly borrowed from a farmer in another village last September to produce his photos.  He was convicted of fraud at a court in north China's Shaanxi province, and sentenced to two and a half years in prison.  He was also fined 2,000 yuan (300 dollars). The last wild South China tiger sighting was recorded in 1964.  Experts believe no more than 20 to 30 of the big cats remain in the wild, and none has been spotted in decades. The animal, whose traditional range is southern and central China, is one of six remaining tiger subspecies. Three other subspecies, the Bali, Java, and Caspian tigers, have all become extinct since the 1940s, according to the US-based Save The Tiger Fund.

Buffalo Zoo’s New Rainforest Falls

September 29, 2008  www.niagara-gazette.com    By Paul Lane

Rainforest Falls, a $16 million exhibit that opened earlier this month is modeled after Canaima National Park in Venezuela. The wide variety of animals are viewable from numerous viewpoints — including a spectacular second-story platform — with a 25-foot waterfall acting as the centerpiece.  Before entering the actual exhibit, visitors go through an educational kiosk that was modeled after what one would find in a national park, with information on rainforest species, what animals in South America eat and how to use native vegetation for medicinal purposes.  Nearly every animal in the exhibit is a new addition to the zoo, according to public relations coordinator Jennifer Fields. Other animals present include giant anteaters, piranhas, capuchin monkeys and snakes. Visitors can watch anteaters rummage for food in the moist soil and monkeys playfully interact with zoo staffers trying to clean the cages. The exhibit will remain at 80 degrees year-round, and a greenhouse is attached to keep fresh vegetation available at all times.  This is one of the last parts of phase one of the zoo’s master plan, a renovation project that hopes to see exhibits such as an Asian river habitat, children’s area and African watering hole completed by 2013.

Adelaide Zoo Drops Offensive Ad Campaign

September 29, 2008   www.theaustralian.news.com.au    By Patrick McDonald

Adelaide Zoo has dropped a controversial ad campaign offering free visits to all "rangas" (a common Australian nickname for redheads) to highlight the plight of orang-utans.  Last week, advertisements offerred "free Zoo entry for all rangas" during the school holidays. but the zoo received quite a bit of negative reaction said the zoo’s SA's director of conservation programs Kevin Evans.  Less than 2 per cent of humans have red hair.  “The genes that carry redheads are breeding out to brunettes and blondes," Mr Evans said.  "Eventually it looks like they are going to be extinct as well."  The zoo will continue to offer free entry to people with red hair for the next two weeks to raise awareness about orang-utans being endangered in the wild.  Dyed red hair will qualify for free entry and zoo staff will not seek proof that patrons are natural redheads.

John Ball Zoo Renovates Monkey Island

September 29, 2008  www.woodtv.com  

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- After 59 years at John Ball Zoo, Monkey Island is undergoing a major construction project.  The current home of the spider monkeys is being demolished to make way for a brand new, softer, greener and far more naturalistic home with soft soil and grass. The same attention to the vegetation, plants and grasses that went into the designs of the recent chimpanzee and lion exhibits will go into in the design of the new Monkey Island. A currently-existing concrete barrier will be removed and replaced with rails, allowing for better viewing of the monkeys. Along the back wall of the exhibit, there will be a waterfall streaming down underneath the boardwalk.  Three new lookout windows will allow visitors a new view of the exhibit. The monkeys will also have a new set of climbing structures that will resemble tropical trees, along with a canopy. The scruture will allow the spider monkeys more room to swing around, and provide additional shade.

Woodland Park Zoo’s Cultural Interpreter Program

September 29, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com  

SEATTLE, WA - Woodland Park Zoo was awarded the 2008 Significant Achievement Award for Education by the AZA for its innovative Cultural Interpreter Program.  The program gives zoo visitors the chance to meet and learn from African interpreters who share their authentic life experiences and firsthand knowledge of the world’s wildlife and wild places. In 2007, the first full implementation of this program took place when four members of the Maasai community of  Merrueshi in southern Kenya were hired to work as cultural interpreters, teaching zoo visitors about the wildlife and conservation issues of the east African savanna. Through weekly  programs including guided tours of the zoo’s award-winning African Savanna exhibit, storytelling, and conservation chats about critical issues such as waterhole preservation, the interpreters brought to life the real and urgent issues impacting Africa’s wildlife, wild places and people. Woodland Park Zoo President and CEO Dr. Deborah Jensen said  “We are extremely proud of our cultural interpreters. Their stories are inspirational and, we hope, motivate our guests to learn more, care and act.” The zoo is currently examining opportunities to extend the Cultural Interpreter Program to additional zoo bioclimatic zones.

Twycross Zoo Conservation Projects

September 29, 2008  www.zandavisitor.com   By Kim Riley

WARWICKSHIRE, UK - The International Otter Survival Fund aims to conserve and help otter species worldwide. The Hairy Nosed Otter (Lutra sumatrana), was once thought to be extinct but has been rediscovered in small populations in Asia, and Twycross Zoo plans to run workshops to teach conservation rangers  how to protect the Hairy Nosed Otters as well as other otters in Cambodia including the Short Clawed Otter.  The zoo is also funding two new aviaries at Green Balkans in Bulgaria to rehabilitate and release raptors such as Griffon Vulture, Black Vulture and Golden Eagle.  A third project  investigates the behavior and ecology of the Yellow Breasted Capuchin. They have been able to define wild diet and behavior patterns not previously seen for this largely unknown species.

Vietnam will be Hard Hit by Climate Change

September 29, 2008  www.enn.com 

With a predicted sea level rise of one meter by 2100, Vietnam may end up being one of the nations worst hit by climate change. Such a rise would affect five percent of the land area, 11 percent of the population and seven percent of the agriculture.  A report released by World Vision on Sep. 18, ”Planet Prepare’, focused on the multi-faceted climate change issues facing coastal communities. Leading climate scientist Nguyen Huu Ninh  has been instrumental in forming the new Vietnam Network for Civil Society and Climate Change, a network of Vietnamese NGOs connected to local business and government bodies. This is but one step of many recently taken by the Vietnamese government and local organizations in response to threats of devastation from a rise in sea level, and the short term threat of increased storms and flooding.  "Vietnam has really picked up the ball in the last six months," Bernard O’Callaghan, Vietnam Programme Coordinator for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Oakland Zoo Head-starts Western Pond Turtle

September 29, 2008   www.insidebayarea.com   By Angela Hill

OAKLAND — Western pond turtles are California's only native aquatic turtle species.  Once thriving in the millions from Mexico to Canada, they are now extinct in British Columbia, critically endangered in Washington state and considered a "species of special concern" by the California Department of Fish and Game.  Oakland Zoo has established the first captive-breeding program for the species and recently hatched sixbaby pond turtles.  The program was developed by Nick Geist, a professor at Sonoma State University.  With help from his graduate students and Oakland Zoo staffers, Geist spent the summer monitoring a Lake County site for mother turtles, following them to their nests and collecting eggs. Geist then placed 57 viable eggs in five incubators in his lab, and the first  hatched about a week ago. They were delivered to Oakland, and the next group will go to San Francisco Zoo. They'll be cared for at the zoos for about a year, until large enough to be released back where the eggs were originally found.  "After raising them under optimal conditions for nine or 10 months, they can get to the size they would grow in the wild in maybe three or four years," Geist said. "At that point, their shell has hardened and they are virtually immune to predators.” Margaret Rousser, lead keeper of Oakland's children's zoo, said “Eastern bullfrogs, originally kept as pets, get too big to manage, and their owners release them into the wild. They're voracious predators of the pond turtle, eating the young ones in one bite. Or they get to the eggs before they even hatch. Also, the red-eared slider turtles are a problem," she said. "They are also nonnative, and a very common turtle pet. People let them loose in a local stream where they compete for resources with the pond turtle.

Historic Platypus Cage on Display

September 29, 2008  www.abc.net.au  

A heritage listed platypus enclosure has reopened on the Gold Coast. The enclosure at the David Fleay Wildlife Park was built in 1958 by Dr Fleay, who raised the money by taking three live platypuses to the Bronx Zoo in New York.  Manager Sue Beckinsale says the enclosure did not meet today's standards but has been kept as a museum piece.  The park's two platypuses are kept in a modern enclosure.

Meat-Eating Dinosaur had Bird-like lungs

September 29, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

ANN ARBOR, Mich -- Birds have a breathing system that is unique. Instead of lungs that expand, birds have a system of bellows, or air sacs, which help pump air through the lungs. This novel feature is the reason birds can fly higher and faster than bats, which, like all mammals, expand their lungs in a less efficient breathing process.  Jeffrey Wilson and Paul Sereno report that the bones of a meat-eating dinosaur named Aerosteon riocoloradensis ("air bones from the Rio Colorado") preserve the hallmark features of a bird-like respiratory system.  The dinosaur’s skeleton was discovered in 1996,  but laboratory technicians had to spend years cleaning and CT-scanning the bones, which were embedded in hard rock, to finally reveal the evidence of air sacs within Aerosteon's body cavity. Wilson, Sereno and the rest of the team scientifically describe and interpret the find in the  Sept. 29 online journal Public Library of Science ONE. The vertebrae, clavicles, and hip bones bear small openings that lead into large, hollow spaces that would have been lined with a thin layer of soft tissue and filled with air in life. These chambers result from a process called pneumatization, in which outpocketings of the lungs (air sacs) invade the bones. Air-filled bones are the hallmark of the bellows system of breathing in birds and also are found in sauropods, the long-necked, long-tailed, plant-eating dinosaurs.

Common Insecticide Decimates Tadpoles

September 30, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

PITTSBURGH—New findings from the University of Pittsburgh suggest that malathion—the most popular insecticide in the United States—can decimate tadpole populations by altering their food chain, according to research published in the Oct. 1 edition of Ecological Applications.  Gradual amounts of malathion that were too small to directly kill developing leopard frog tadpoles instead sparked a biological chain of events that deprived them of their primary food source. As a result, nearly half the tadpoles in the experiment did not reach maturity and would have died in nature. The research was funded by a National Science Foundation grant. Rick Relyea, an associate professor of biological sciences and Nicole Diecks (CGS '05), created simulated ponds from 300-gallon outdoor tanks containing wood frog and leopard frog tadpoles. They exposed the ponds to no malathion, moderate concentrations in a single dose, or low concentrations in weekly doses that mirror the levels tadpoles experience in nature. Malathion is commonly used worldwide to thwart crop pests and control mosquitoes that carry malaria and West Nile virus. It has been detected in the wetlands where frogs and other amphibians live.The doses of malathion in the simulated ponds were too low to directly kill the amphibians, but instead wiped out tiny animals known as zooplankton that eat algae that float in the water. With few zooplankton remaining, the algae, known as phytoplankton, grew rapidly and prevented sunlight from reaching the bottom-dwelling algae, or periphyton, which tadpoles eat. This chain of events occurred over a period of several weeks. The wood frog tadpoles, which mature quickly, were largely unaffected. The journal Ecological Applications is available online at www.esajournals.org/loi/ecap .

WCS Study on Urban Black Bears

September 30, 2008  www.eurekalert.org

NEW YORK -– Black bears that live around urban areas weigh more, get pregnant at a younger age, and are more likely to die violent deaths, according to a study by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).  The study, published in the Fall 2008 issue of the journal Human-Wildlife Conflicts, tracked 12 bears over a 10-year period living in urban areas around Lake Tahoe, Nevada and compared them to 10 "wildland" bears that lived in outlying wild areas. The authors found that bears in urbanized areas weighed an average of 30 percent more than bears in wild areas due to a diet heavily supplemented by garbage. The authors believe that because the bears weigh more they are giving birth at an earlier age – on average when they are between 4-5 years old, as compared to 7-8 years for bears in wild areas. Some urban bears even reproduced as early as 2-3 years of age around Lake Tahoe.  Urban bears also tend to die much younger due mostly to collisions with vehicles, according to the study. All 12 urban bears tracked by the researcher were dead by age 10 due to vehicle collisions, while six of the wildland bears still survived. Bear cubs in urban areas also had dramatically higher mortality rates due mainly to vehicle collisions.

5-Year Review of Piping Plover

September 30, 2008  www.epa.gov  

The USFWS is initiating a 5-year review of the piping plover (Atlantic Coast, Great Lakes, and Northern Great Plains populations) under the Endangered Species Act. In our December 11, 1985, we determined the Great Lakes breeding population to be endangered (but threatened when occurring outside of the Great Lakes watershed and the Atlantic Coast and Great Plains populations to be threatened.  We then approved recovery plans for the Atlantic Coast (USFWS 1988a, 1996), Great Lakes (USFWS 1988b, 2003), and Northern Great Plains (USFWS 1988b) populations. The three populations share wintering habitats along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, from North Carolina to Mexico and into the Caribbean Islands.  We request any new information on these populations that may have a bearing on their classification as endangered or threatened. Based on the results of these 5-year reviews, we will make findings on whether these populations are properly classified under the Act.  We must receive your information no later than December 1, 2008. However, we will continue to accept new information about any listed species at any time.  Submit all electronic information in Text or Rich Text format. Provide your name and return address in the body of your message, and include the following identifier in the e-mail subject line:``Information on 5-year review for Piping Plover.''

Greater Protection for China’s Baiji dolphin

September 30, 2008  www.enn.com 

XINGZIKOU,  China: The Chinese government recently formed a Yangtze Dolphin Network  to connect existing reserves established for the Baiji dolphin.  The network was initiated by the aquatic and wildlife protection office of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and is funded by donors including WWF-China.  “WWF started working on Yangtze dolphin conservation as early as 2002,” said Dr. Wang Limin, WWF-China’s deputy director of conservation operations.  Human activities such as illegal fishing, pollution and shipping have hit the Baiji dolphin and finless porpoise hard, causing their numbers to dramatically decline over the last few years.   During a Yangtze Freshwater dolphin expedition in 2006 no Baiji dolphins were found, while the population of the finless porpoise has dropped to an estimated 1,800, half the number found in the 1990s. Over the past few decades the Chinese government has made considerable efforts to protect the freshwater dolphin by setting up nature reserves. The Yangtze Dolphin Network includes six nature reserves and two monitoring sites.  It was established in Xingzikou, Jiangxi province, on September 24, with the launch ceremony followed by two days of dolphin monitoring and rescue training, as well as one day of field monitoring practice. Apart from the Yangtze, river dolphins are found in South America's Amazon, India's Ganges and Pakistan's Indus rivers as well as a few locations in south and south-east Asia.

Gray Wolf Back on Endangered Species List

September 30, 2008  www.cnn.com

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan  -- A federal court Monday overturned the Bush administration's decision to remove gray wolves in the western Great Lakes region from the endangered species list.  U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington sided with environmental groups that accused the government of misreading the law last year when it lifted protections for about 4,000 wolves in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on September 23 asked a judge in Montana to return gray wolves in the Northern Rockies to the endangered list, reversing a proposal to drop them earlier this year. That followed the judge's order in July barring plans for public wolf hunts in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.  The wolf occupies only about 5 percent of its historical range, which once took in most of the continental U.S. But the animal has recovered steadily in the western Great Lakes region since the late 1970s, migrating from Minnesota into Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Surveys this year turned up 2,921 wolves in Minnesota, at least 537 in Wisconsin and 520 in Michigan.  In a lawsuit challenging the Fish and Wildlife Service's 2007 decision, The Humane Society and several other groups claimed the government had acted illegally by designating Great Lakes wolves as a "distinct population segment" that could be bumped from the endangered list without regard to the species' nationwide standing.

Plan to Add 48 Kaua'i Species to Endangered List

September 30, 2008  www.honoluluadvertiser.com

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today announced a proposal to add 48 species found only on the island of Kaua'i to the federal endangered species list. The listing would protect  45 plants, two birds and one insect. The proposal is the first time the agencies have applied a newly developed, ecosystem-based approach to species conservation, they said.  The approach may be used in the future on O'ahu, in the Arctic and in great river basins of the Southeastern mainland.  "By addressing the common threats that occur across these ecosystems, we can more effectively focus our conservation efforts on restoring the functions of these shared habitats," Kempthorne said in a prepared statement. The American Bird Conservancy claimed it "an important victory for the (bird species) 'akikiki and 'akeke'e, which need every bit of help that they can get. Recent population surveys indicate that these species are on the brink of extinction," said George Fenwick, the conservation group's president.  American Bird Conservancy and Hawaiian bird expert Eric VanderWerf had petitioned the agency requesting protection under the Endangered Species Act for the two very rare birds. There are estimated to be fewer than 1,400 'akikiki and fewer than 3,500 'akeke'e in 2007. The populations of both birds dropped drastically since 2000. 

One species of Hawaiian picture-wing fly and 45 plants are included in the announcement. "Kaua'i, the oldest island of the main Hawaiian Islands, has been called a 'treasure trove of biodiversity' and is believed to house the greatest diversity of plants in the state," said Patrick Leonard, Fish & Wildlife Service field supervisor for the Pacific Islands. "Therefore, it is appropriate that we begin this new approach to listing species and designating critical habitat in Kaua'i"  Copies of the proposed rule will be posted on the service's website at www.fws.gov/pacificislands  and published in the Federal Register in the near future.

Leatherback Turtles Return to California

September 30, 2008  www.signonsandiego.com 

MOSS LANDING – Endangered leatherback sea turtles have been spotted again off the Central California coast after a two-year hiatus.  They appear to be drawn to the area by the swarms of jellyfish. They eat the jellyfish’s stinging tentacles after their 7,000-mile swim across the Pacific from Indonesia and the Solomon Islands, where the turtles nest and lay their eggs.  Scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tagged and monitored the leatherbacks during a month-long survey aboard a research ship and by aircraft.  The species, which has been around for 100 million years, has seen its population cut by more than 90 percent over the past 25 years and recently had gone missing from the California coast until this survey.

Phoenix Zoo’s Renovation Plans

September 30, 2008  www.fox11az.com

PHOENIX, Arizona--  Despite a weak economy, zoo backers plan to launch a fundraising drive Wednesday.  Plans call for removing a concrete bunker-style enclosure for orangutans and replacing it with a $5 million two-story dwelling, about triple the size of the current exhibit, with an observation tower and lush vegetation.  Another $3.2 million is earmarked for an entry oasis and native-wildlife exhibit that visitors will encounter the moment they set foot off the zoo's parking lot in Papago Park.  "We want people to have a very intimate experience," said Bert Castro, the zoo's president. They have already raised $6 million through private donors, and are requesting $6 million additional over three years in Phoenix Parks and Preserve Initiative funding.  They are also asking  the City of Phoenix to help pay for a new water and sewer infrastructure.

Kids Free Days at San Diego Zoo & Wild Animal Park       

September 30, 2008  www.imperialvalleynews.com

SAN DIEGO, California - During the month of October children up to 11 years old receive free admission to the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoos Wild Animal Park. Kids Free began at the Zoo 23 years ago and this is the first year the program will be offered at the Wild Animal Park. By offering kids free access the zoo hopes to reach future conservationists and environmentalists and introduce them to the work that needs to be done to save and conserve animals during their lifetime.

Newquay Zoo Breeds Pied Tamarins

September 30, 2008, www.redorbit.com

NEWQUAY, England -- Newquay Zoo has been breeding the pied tamarins, one of the 25 most endangered primate species in the world. John Meek, the zoo's animal collections manager, said: "We first held a breeding pair of this species in February 2006. They obviously like the Cornish climate as they are notoriously difficult to breed in captivity but have been doing extremely well here in Newquay. "We now have the adult pair plus four youngsters, and the time has arrived for two females who are now around two years old to move on to another breeding group in Zoo Parc de Beauval in France.  "This will help to further the conservation efforts for this species."  Pied Tamarins are part of the European Endangered Species Programme.  Urban growth and cattle ranching on the outskirts of Manaus, capital of Brazil's Amazonas state, has affected the wild population. In the wild, the animals forage for food that includes insects, ripe fruit, gum and nectar.  Pied tamarins are also threatened by the success of the red- handed tamarin in a similar way to the threat to native red squirrels by grey squirrels in the UK.  In January this year, two pied tamarins were hand-reared at Paignton Zoo after being rejected by their parents.